She wanted to know. She asked where her friend’s soul went after her death last night. We sat in the grand room of the Sussman House, an end of life hospice house. She volunteered. Me too. It was Saturday night. Our weekly talk. I sipped chicken broth. She held blue protective gloves in right hand. She’d been cleaning up the kitchen area.
Nowhere, I said.
She winced. I don’t believe that, she said.
We smiled the recognition of two tobogganners settling into the chute just before the drop down lever is pushed forward.
There’s no other place. There’s only this upon this upon this, all the way down and in, realm within realm, breath within breath, berth alongside berth, birth after birth, life as itself surrounding itself.
Leaving the body is only leaving the body. Body is where the appearance of life, particular life, manifests itself as distinctive expression, distinctive movement.
What we call death is the letting go of seeming separation.
Where does her friend go? Let’s say she enters the inseparate. What seemed to be apart is no longer apart.
Returning to the whole of what is without distinction or special notice, her friend enters what is here.
What is here is no where. Or, nowhere. Only here.
Can we hear what is not apparent as a separate presence?
Maybe what we call faith is surrendered attention to what is not yet fully present in and as our midst.
What is amidst is what is itself.
It is the realization of no-other in the midst of uncountable seeming others.
What do we hear in that gaze we give looking? Just the gaze? Just the looking?
Faith comes from hearing. Hearing, from listening. Listening, from silence. Silence, from presence. Presence, from nowhere else.
If we cease attempting to put someone someplace as something, what remains?
Nothing. Not the nothing of despairing failure we enact in our striving to accomplish something.
But the no-thing surrounding and surrendering the falling away of the thought we grasp at that “there” is what we want, need, and strive toward.
There is no opposite to here — except in our belief that there is.
A koan for our time.