Mystic Gateways

Detached Observation

Gaunts House Summer Gathering
Gaunts House Summer Gathering

From where I was sitting . .


For those who stayed over the four or five days at The Gaunts' House Gathering, this was a full gathering of tents and vans, sitting around fires, music stages, over 40 free workshops each day, an occasional rain shower, and warm nights. There were lots of family groups, and those who got together again, after years of coming here, and a few who turned-up on their own, either to re-acquaint with previous friends, or make new friends with total strangers. The whole gathering was at ease with itself, and the space it was in. All of this, to those who camped, was a collective and friendly, layed-back, experience over a few days, away from the conventions of routine and work.

From where I was sitting I could look out at a view of trees and grass, tents and people, sun and sky.

There is another way to look at things, sometimes called 'detached observation', or 'direct awareness', and the Buddhists might call it 'mindfulness'. It is looking casually, without involvement or emotion, but I go a step further and call it "looking symbolically", for there are other things or sensations present that make any ordinary scene full of ‘presence’.
The biggest sensation of 'just' looking is, if you let it, a silence and settled peace. This inner peace doesn't come from the peaceful scene around you, (although lots of people look there for it), but from within. This world is full of things (the "ten thousand things" that Zen monks go on about), upon which we heap significance, meaning, and involvement, and justify and celebrate with ownership and experience. Beyond all of this, and contained in it, is a 'quiet fulness'. What you might see, is that the world is full of material and physical things, and also other 'sensations', space and light.

And the 'symbolic looking' ?  It's looking not just with your eyes, but with, or through, your heart or intuition. The next time you enter a room, or meet someone, look with your heart (intuition/feeling), rather than your sight and your past experience/standards. Look without wanting, thinking, or doing anything, and you'll see something else that is 'impersonal' and doesn't know you (and probably, not something you would look for).

Now look between the tents, the trees, and people, and in that space between and beyond the things you've added-in, with your attachments and involvements, is the world waiting to be seen.  It's a strange place. Faraway, so close.