Awakin.org

Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

A Walk in the Rain

--by Jeff Foster (Jul 09, 2012)


As the story goes, I was walking through the rain on a cold Autumn evening in Oxford. The sky was getting dark; I was wrapped up warm in my new coat. And suddenly and without warning, the search for something more apparently fell away, and with it all separation and loneliness.

And with the death of separation, I was everything that arose: I was the darkening sky, I was the middle aged man walking his golden retriever, I was the little old lady hobbling along in her waterproofs. I was the ducks, the swans, the geese, the funny looking bird with the red streak on its forehead. I was the trees in all their autumnal glory, I was the sludge sticking to my feet, I was my body, all of it, arms and legs and torso and face and hands and feet and neck and hair and genitals, the whole damn lot. I was the raindrops falling on my head (although it was not my head, I did not own it, but it was undeniably there, and so to call it "my head" is as good as anything). I was the splish-splash of water on the ground, I was the water collecting into puddles, I was the water swelling the pond until it looked fit to burst its banks, I was the trees soaked by water, I was my coat soaked by water, I was the water soaking everything, I was everything being soaked, I was the water soaking itself.
 
And everything that for so long had seemed so ordinary had suddenly become so extraordinary, and I wondered if, in fact, it hadn't been this way all along: that perhaps for my whole life it had been this way, so utterly alive, so clear, so vibrant. Perhaps in my lifelong quest to reach the spectacular and the dramatic, I had missed the ordinary, and with it, and through it, and in it, the utterly extraordinary.
 
And the utterly extraordinary on this day was awash with rain, and I was not separate from any of it, that is to say, I was not there at all. As the old Zen master had said upon hearing the sound of the bell ringing, "there was no I, and no bell, just the ringing", so it was on this day: there was no "I" experiencing this clarity, there was only the clarity, only the utterly obvious presenting itself in each and every moment.
 
Of course, I had no way of knowing any of this at the time. At the time, thought was not there to claim any of this as an “experience”. There was just what was happening, but no way of knowing it. The words came later.
 
And there was an all-pervading feeling that everything was okay with the world, there was an equanimity and a sense of peace which seemed to underlie everything there was; it was as though everything was simply a manifestation of this peace, as if nothing existed apart from peace, in its infinite guises. And I was the peace, and the duck over there was it too, and the wrinkly old lady still waddling along was the peace, and the peace was all around, everything just vibrated with it, this grace, this presence that was utterly unconditional and free, this overwhelming love that seemed to be the very essence of the world, the very reason for it, the Alpha and the Omega of it all.
 
--Jeff Foster, in 'Beyond Awakening'


Add Your Reflection:

Send me an email when another comment is posted on this passage.
Name: Email:

39 Previous Reflections:

 
On Oct 22, 2017 Nakul Agrawal wrote:

 Yes i have attained the same experience. Everyone who has attained it has said the same things but it’s difficult to understand unless U attain it . I’m saying this coz i have remained a seeker for quite a long time & used to reach such things but only when i attained the experience, could I really understand it. Through meditation one can train his mind gradually to reach a state of thoughtlessness. thoughts exist because in your mind the idea of u being an entity exists. When that idea dissolves, the thoughts dissolve as well. & then there is only the experience & not the experiencer because when there is an experiencer i.e. a sense of being a separate entity, U always try to understand the experience & to interpret it & put it into words. But when the experiencer vanishes & with it all the memory & thus beliefs & ideologies & understandings vanish, just the experience remains & then the experience seems so beautiful & fr  See full.

 Yes i have attained the same experience. Everyone who has attained it has said the same things but it’s difficult to understand unless U attain it . I’m saying this coz i have remained a seeker for quite a long time & used to reach such things but only when i attained the experience, could I really understand it.
Through meditation one can train his mind gradually to reach a state of thoughtlessness. thoughts exist because in your mind the idea of u being an entity exists. When that idea dissolves, the thoughts dissolve as well. & then there is only the experience & not the experiencer because when there is an experiencer i.e. a sense of being a separate entity, U always try to understand the experience & to interpret it & put it into words. But when the experiencer vanishes & with it all the memory & thus beliefs & ideologies & understandings vanish, just the experience remains & then the experience seems so beautiful & fresh & extraordinary like what a newborn would feel on seeing things for the first time... full of joy, amazement & curiosity.
thoughts make us feel ₹ think whatever we do about life & the world. The moment they vanish, we realise that there is nothing wrong or right with anything , everything just is the way it is & there’s an underlying peace beneath everything because now U can cexperience that peace in everything & not get attached to it.

Hide full comment.

On Mar 14, 2017 Edward wrote:

 Zen



On Jul 27, 2014 Wanderer wrote:

Why do I keep causing my own suffering.. Why can I not see the world as I know it to be. What is this affliction? Why can I not cry?



3 replies: Nimal, Me, Edward | Post Your Reply
On Jul 23, 2014 Krzysz wrote:

 Great. This is IT.



On Jul 22, 2014 KEHUALANI wrote:

 In Dying to Self there is an AWAKENING....Noting the  Intricacies in and Self though Painful is ELATING...Though the PROCESS, PROCESSINGS, PORCESSES, will come with PAIN, and BEING UNCOMFORTABLE through each realm of their, the Transformations in MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT will release...enabling the ESSENCE to be PEACEFUL in the MOMENT by the GRACE OF HIS HAND. 



2 replies: Aj, Nimal | Post Your Reply
On Jul 22, 2014 Nimal Hapuarachchi wrote:

 No, not an experience the 'I' can catch. But something in me is in agreement with what Jeff says. The real I acknowledges the peace and grace and presence.



1 reply: Edward | Post Your Reply
On Mar 20, 2014 megin wrote:

 It is a Beautiful story Jeff, and I know this feeling I suppose you did not have money problems back then.....



1 reply: Edward | Post Your Reply
On Mar 19, 2014 Ron Cortolezzis wrote:

 I thought I was a great Swimmer of Life and loved the water. Had all the tools and clothing that I needed. Then I found myself within some rough waters. I tried to stay afloat, and to survive. Out of fear, I knew how to fight the water. I was not in control anymore, but was at the mercy of the water. Then I was taken over by the water. The power, the force of it pushed me under. After a while I let go of the fight and surrendered to my upcoming Death. At that moment I felt a calm and just stop all movement. I was still. What I found was I lost no-thing and gained an ocean. Within this Ocean was Peace, Joy and Unconditional Love. As I resurfaced to my Daily Life, I found a 'Burning image' of the Ocean Within me, as a Anchor to my Truth forever. Now I can swim with a feeling of Grace for Life and Freedom of Being that moves me. "I can not lose what I am".



2 replies: ;), Nimal | Post Your Reply
On Feb 24, 2013 Pina wrote:
funny I should read this today as I had that experience this morning during meditation it doesn't seem to last much past the meditation, I cried as I read the above but I realized it's a cry of recognition. At the moment I seem to be able to access it at will, I suppose by accessing I mean if I put my attention there, there i am!   Pina

On Jan 10, 2013 Shanti wrote:
Hi Sandra, Thierry, my heart thrills to hear you both mention "the many" whose experience echoes Jeff's. I am the publisher of a new online subscription magazine entitled ONE. The heart and core of the magazine is the sharing of personal accounts of awakening to non-dual realization from people from all over the globe. Each issue also features one teacher of non-dualism, and Jeff will be featured in the next issue of ONE. Check it out when you have a chance: www.onethemagzine.com. And if you, yourself, or others you know might want to share their awakening stories, please contact me through the magazine!

Blessings,
Shanti Einolander

1 reply: Sandra | Post Your Reply
On Jul 27, 2012 Thierry wrote:
Hi Sandra. Yes, my friend's experience can be echoed by many. I very much appreciate your comment that ' moving into more light is part of our individual struggle' and ' that it takes hard work to get to see more of that light blinking through the trees.' I suppose this is more or less what I was in a mind to say when taking that exemple. The memory of these glimpses into the real did'nt set my friend going on the path of self-inquiry.

On Jul 26, 2012 Sandra wrote:

 Hi Thierry, I'm sure your friend's experience can be echoed by many.  Just because there was no "transformation", whatever that means, doesn't mean we're not ready.  The fact is we're all "ready" in so far as we're all already spiritual beings.  The light can't come in the first place unless we have the shade open, even a tiny bit.  The fact that we don't know how to move more quickly into more light is just part of our individual struggle.  I had no immediate transformation and my life definitely had lots of highs and lows, mostly lows.  But, it's been the remembrance of that experience that has kept me afloat, helped me understand what I see around me in the world and "forgive it" (as they say in ACIM), be understanding, less distraught than I would have been about things.  Don't know about your friend, but it has taken me a lot of work, to cut away at the think brush o  See full.

 Hi Thierry, I'm sure your friend's experience can be echoed by many.  Just because there was no "transformation", whatever that means, doesn't mean we're not ready.  The fact is we're all "ready" in so far as we're all already spiritual beings.  The light can't come in the first place unless we have the shade open, even a tiny bit.  The fact that we don't know how to move more quickly into more light is just part of our individual struggle.  I had no immediate transformation and my life definitely had lots of highs and lows, mostly lows.  But, it's been the remembrance of that experience that has kept me afloat, helped me understand what I see around me in the world and "forgive it" (as they say in ACIM), be understanding, less distraught than I would have been about things.  Don't know about your friend, but it has taken me a lot of work, to cut away at the think brush overhead to see more of that light blinking through the trees.

Hide full comment.

On Jul 26, 2012 Thierry wrote:
A person I have known very well and for many years told me of having 'experienced' such extraordinary happenings of feeling totally one with whatever was . However, to his own avowal, these had no transformative value whatsoever and his life went on being a succession of  dramatic  highs and lows. They did not trigger the desire to enquire further into himself and reality and he is still not able to put whatever happened to him into perspective. In his case such happenings seem to be but random events, however impressive, in the course of a life somewhat devoid of significance. One does not necessarily get such glimpses because one is ready. They may happen also in a very disturbed and depressed mind and leave a person unchanged.

1 reply: Edward | Post Your Reply
On Jul 24, 2012 Sandra wrote:
 Awesome, and eloquently stated Mr. Hilderbrandt.  Am beginning to think we're given these glimpses, perhaps because we're ready, or have asked for it, consciously or not, and then the onus is on us to find our own route to that "place," which is always right within us.  Finally, am realizing that, and learning, slowly, my need to "be still" and seek within, invite, invoke, ask for that light to manifest itself.  It apparently takes concentrated, daily, hourly devotion, turning away from all "outside" ugliness, rejecting the notion anything could be real except the Divine.  Lots of prayer, meditation, and study.  But, we can just relax and enjoy the adventure.

On Jul 24, 2012 Ricky wrote:
To Mr. Hilderbrandt:  Thank you so much for expressing your reflection here.  You use the word one-ness, and express a desire to experience this more.  Take time to google Oneness Blessing, and you will find likeminded people who are gathering near your location to experience this one-ness you speak about. Join them.  Your connection experience there during an incredibly difficult time in our human history helps bring perspective.  Again, thank you. 

On Jul 23, 2012 Eugene Hilderbrandt wrote:

    It was another morning in Chu Lai, Vietnam--home of the infamous Americal Division. A large and ugly army base where i was biding time, waiting to be shipped out to a smaller place where i could work in my MOS, listening to coded Vietnamese radio transmissions. I was about halfway through my tour of duty and more than anything else, somewhat bored       As i avoided the mud puddles that  February morning, i eventually found myself standing on top of a drive- up ramp to service jeeps. Looking through the mists toward distant purple mountains, i suddenly was aware that I WAS those mountains and they were me. The now perfect little mud puddles were as much me as my fingers. The olive drab trucks, the concertina wire, the things that had always possessed a negative connotation in my mind were simply...man's folly! Another GI i knew slightly since i'd been there less than a month, walked across the compound and i experienced a love beyond words  See full.

    It was another morning in Chu Lai, Vietnam--home of the infamous Americal Division. A large and ugly army base where i was biding time, waiting to be shipped out to a smaller place where i could work in my MOS, listening to coded Vietnamese radio transmissions. I was about halfway through my tour of duty and more than anything else, somewhat bored
      As i avoided the mud puddles that  February morning, i eventually found myself standing on top of a drive- up ramp to service jeeps. Looking through the mists toward distant purple mountains, i suddenly was aware that I WAS those mountains and they were me. The now perfect little mud puddles were as much me as my fingers. The olive drab trucks, the concertina wire, the things that had always possessed a negative connotation in my mind were simply...man's folly! Another GI i knew slightly since i'd been there less than a month, walked across the compound and i experienced a love beyond words  for him, a realization that he was me wearing his own personal disguise. I was immersed in this joy that i had never even heard of--no separation from anything or anyone, no judgment of the world around me. I instinctively avoided people for who knows how long because i somehow knew this bliss would disappear when my mind shifted out of this neutral space it was in and that trying to share it with words would be akin to trying to "rope the sky."  .Later, when i attempted to explain what i'd experienced with words, the only word that came close was one-ness.            

      Less than 2 weeks later i was at LZ Bronco and was looking through a meager dozen or so collection of books left by earlier tenants, i saw this curious title, "The Book...on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are" by Alan Watts. When he began describing the experience i recently had, it triggered the Experience again, only this time as i immediately tried to hold on to it, to keep it, it dissolved, like quick-silver through my fingers .

     A few months later, as i prepared to return "to the world"--America-- I thought, okay i now know some important truths  life will be easier, more simple, but instead, it has become more challenging than ever.  But, those experiences changed this Southern Baptist bred Okie for life. I am thankful every day for the grace that i received that February morning along with the realization that this beautiful state of being belongs to every single being of every color, culture or persuasion on earth.

    Although i have pursued, even lusted after the Oneness experience I'd had, like a donkey chasing a carrot on a stick, i have slowly and painfully come to realize that only through knowing and then having the compassion to love myself just as i am and accepting completely this wonderfully terrible world just as it is, will i be able to open my heart to the state that is always there, that makes the pain and the fear of self-discovery so worth the journey i'm on.

Hide full comment.

On Jul 12, 2012 Sateen Sheth wrote:
 Makes me think of how we fail to often appreciate all the beauty that surrounds us all the time (the sun, the birds, people), mainly because we are so consumed with distractions (texting, facebook, Internet) or our own minds that don't allow us to be aware and mindful in the present.

On Jul 10, 2012 david doane wrote:
 My first thought was that the writer was damn lucky to have such a unitive experience.  A few brief times, I don't know how many but only a few, I've had the experience of oneness with all, which was a peaceful and ecstatic state -- I don't know if I had an all-pervading feeling that everything was okay with the world -- I don't think I did -- it was more that I was in a state of better than okay.  To me, grace is a gift, it is the gift of and in a present moment, a moment of being free and beyond conditional.  Such moments are the best, the most satisfying and fulfilling, in living. 

On Jul 10, 2012 Amy wrote:
 He will be kept in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You.  Isa 26:3.
 Since God made all things/ all people.  God is IN all things and all people.  To the extent we're able to get outside ourselves and enter into the experience of another (be he/she a person or "a rock") . . . there is peace.  Grace, Peace and most importantly, Love to you.  amy 

On Jul 10, 2012 sundi wrote:
 This has happened to me before on two or three occasions, all of them much too brief in duration.  But I distinctly remember that I felt connected to the universe and all that is in it... and I also had the thought that this is what it feels like to live eternally, to live long enough to be able to feel the essence of all living things, to be connected to all living things.... and that if only we had that privilege of eternal life, there could never be any war, violence, hatred, racism, etc. ... But of course, we all know that much is just common sense.

On Jul 10, 2012 Sandra wrote:
 I did have such an experience, lasted for weeks, many years ago.  Did not understand its source at the time, or what to do with it, so commenced a long spiritual journey that has yet to bring back that "sense" of what I know to be real.  Though certainly grateful for the revelation as a reminder to me of what's real behind all the seeming madness.  This particular passage reminds me also of something John Wren-Lewis wrote years ago.  Thanks for the reminder.

On Jul 10, 2012 karen wrote:
Beautifully written...If we truly are 'desiring more' from an experience then I feel it is that sense of peace the author evokes in his depiction of being at one with all.  Grace & peace are present when we know and accept that experience unfolds just as it should, that life is just as it should be...

On Jul 10, 2012 Viren Shah wrote:
 This will be the case, when all our senses stops functioning and our memory / thought stops influencing, in other words when we suspend our 'I',  to have experience of profound. But unfortunately this experience can not be described in detail due to suspension of senses and memories in this state and will remain like a dream.

On Jul 10, 2012 JS wrote:
 Simply beautiful...

On Jul 9, 2012 Thierry wrote:
What a wonderful happening and what a paradox. But to walk around with the desire to have such an "experience" is precisely desiring the 'more'. That can only happen and all we can do is, as someone said, be orderly in ourselves and just leave the window open. 

On Jul 8, 2012 Ricky wrote:

When you change your language, your choice of words, your focus, you are able to articulate the ideas that arise in this article.  As we change our view of our presence here from ‘it’s all about me’ in isolation and ‘things happen because of forces outside myself’ and ‘how can I get into heaven’, to ‘we are here all together on this global island, completely interconnected and interdependent’, we can begin to change the way we move about, change how we think, act with conviction on the premise of the article that reinforces everything is peacefulness, and in its place, it’s all okay.    When we focus on what we can get materialistically and fundamentally, dwell on how little the world seems to offer, how unfair and unrelenting the pressures and definitions of success are, how we are immobile and ineffective in the face of poverty, famine, and abuse, we search outside of our deepest heart and Big Mind and get cau  See full.

When you change your language, your choice of words, your focus, you are able to articulate the ideas that arise in this article.  As we change our view of our presence here from ‘it’s all about me’ in isolation and ‘things happen because of forces outside myself’ and ‘how can I get into heaven’, to ‘we are here all together on this global island, completely interconnected and interdependent’, we can begin to change the way we move about, change how we think, act with conviction on the premise of the article that reinforces everything is peacefulness, and in its place, it’s all okay. 
 
When we focus on what we can get materialistically and fundamentally, dwell on how little the world seems to offer, how unfair and unrelenting the pressures and definitions of success are, how we are immobile and ineffective in the face of poverty, famine, and abuse, we search outside of our deepest heart and Big Mind and get caught up in political rhetoric and acts of unkindness and greed, big and small.  We gather our arms in, harboring our hearts and clinging to the fear of scarceness.
 
I learned a new phrase recently, and have enjoyed applying it.  Wabi-sabi.  According to a reading I have done recently, when people of Japanese decent are asked the definition, they find words difficult to articulate this sense.  While the western view of this is how to simplify your life and love what is imperfect in the world and yourself, I appreciate the non dualistic view of wabi-sabi…how the ordinary is really extraordinary.  There is a rejoicing of heart and soul in the beetle crawling across the gravel, the bird song, the butterfly flitting, branches of deciduous trees in the winter, the difference in warmth between a sun baked road and the adjoining patch of grass, wrinkles and other signs of aging, the gentle wave action near the shore, and as the article describes-the indiscriminent nature of drenching rain-no favorites/victims whatsoever in the amount of soaking.
 
Scientists may point out that the physiological and biological reaction of the writer to this rain really was a connection with the uplifting nature of negative ions produced in the action of the rain.  Negative ion activity counteracts the deleterious effects of our industrial evolutionary technological feats, using electromagnetic waves such as in video games, cell phones, microwaves ovens, as well as television which produce an overabundance of positive ions and which wreak havoc on our immune systems. The action of rain is not dissimilar to the negative ionic benefits of being near waterfalls, ocean waves, river currents, babbling creeks, or taking a walk in the deep forest, standing near an ancient tree, breathing deeply, or expanding our arms out in rushing wind, a gentle breeze, or even dropping the shoes and socks off the feet and walking barefoot on the earth.  Interestingly, this scientific understanding does not diminish the powerful affects of when we connect with this magnificent body we have been blessed with during this lifetime.  As Rumi suggests (paraphrased), look around…be present…none of this is outside you…Step within the orchard, and you step within the orchardist.  Radiance Sutra #57… “with a steady gaze, melt into the field of space embracing form, and at once, be at one with the creator, who is looking through your eyes, loving creation.”
 
In answer to the question prompt, have you had an experience of coming in touch with ‘an all-pervading feeling that everything was okay with the world’?, I can say yes, and often.  Each and every time I move about in nature, whether on an exotic beach, in my backyard, in a park, or teaching outdoors I experience this.  Even quieting the space within my home, listening to slack key guitar music, reading, or listening to stories from indigenous people about Mother Earth, Father Sky, environmental identification, people expressing themselves in their native tongue, being fully present with another person and especially children, I am there.  This is when I am present with grace and utterly unconditionally free in Love.
 
In conclusion, I wrote this at the beginning of June during a very sudden and unexpected intense rain event on the high school campus I teach at, witnessing this in response to a ‘walk in the rain’!
“Question:  When does ordinary become extraordinary?  Answer:  When living fully in the moment.
Yesterday afternoon’s typical and ordinary June shower moving through about 3:15 became extraordinary on at least two counts. 
First, a miles-wide rain event seemed to defy gravity, and although falling straight down the drops instantly exploded up with both ‘feet’, again and again seeking to reach skyward, quickly turning the campus and our valley into swift rivers of liquid sunshine within a couple of heart beats.
Second, outside the southwest door of New Main foyer, one of my students and her comrade abandoned ordinary high school conformity by immediately and repeatedly grounding with both feet and exploding up to reach skyward; squealing, whirling, and twirling within this drenching downpour, wide grins upon wet upturned faces and palms.
Ordinary inconvenience morphed into unfettered extraordinary joy, letting go, and being fully present in the moment.
A visual for the day before graduation, 2012 forever etched onto my heart.  Extraordinary.”  
 

Hide full comment.

On Jul 8, 2012 JPSingh wrote:

It is a most difficult state for anyone to achieve. Still more difficult to comprehend There  is no desire for reaching, arriving or seeking. There  is no goal. The player,goal-post,goal keeper become one.Everything merges in a state of Oneness. This state never comes by stiriving. But it comes by Divine Grace. One must have done numberless pious deeds to earn the grace of a Perfect Master to achieve there  is no me or I or you. In sufism we call it a state of 'fana'. From nothing to nothing one goes And finds everything. All the struggle and tumult comes to an end. One dies to the lie of a divisible world And becomes indivisible. It is a state without division. No creation or created except the essence . A state beyond createdness or created. This is the original state of being. This is reached when one ceases To exist for oneself And exist only  for non-self without  consciousness. Like a burning candle which is consumed By the flame To give light. Il  See full.

It is a most difficult state for anyone to achieve.
Still more difficult to comprehend
There  is no desire for reaching, arriving or seeking.
There  is no goal.
The player,goal-post,goal keeper become one.Everything merges in a state of Oneness.
This state never comes by stiriving.
But it comes by Divine Grace.
One must have done numberless pious deeds to earn the grace of a Perfect Master to achieve there  is no me or I or you.
In sufism we call it a state of 'fana'.
From nothing to nothing one goes
And finds everything.
All the struggle and tumult comes to an end.
One dies to the lie of a divisible world
And becomes indivisible.
It is a state without division.
No creation or created except the essence .
A state beyond createdness or created.
This is the original state of being.
This is reached when one ceases
To exist for oneself
And exist only  for non-self
without  consciousness.
Like a burning candle which is consumed
By the flame
To give light.
Illumine and fade away
without any grudges or complaint.

One never choose any duty
Except one that is  thrust upon it
By the spontaneous law of nature 
And  performed  to perfection.
Not for pleasure of self
But for non-self.
Only such being
Who become non-self
In performance of his duties
With a pure heart
Which in other words is just
A  commitment
Living for the welfare of all Living -kind
Achieves this state.
The heart of such a person
 Is always full of love for the creator
And for whatever he has created
Who die for the choice that was not his
But of the Creator
Achieves in the end His   Grace.

Only such a being  become a cloud
A rainbow
A mountain
An Ocean
A fish
An elephant
A Grass hopper
A river, lake ,rivulet
A drop
wind
A cloud
Snow
A leaf
By becomes  nothing
He   becomes everything.

Only in an  unguarded moment
This state haexperienced  by the author of that para.
JPSingh


 
 

Hide full comment.

On Jul 6, 2012 Conrad P. Pritscher wrote:
Jeff Foster is a wonderful writer.  I have difficulty adding anything more.  When one is one, the way that can be said is not the way. Desiring nothing can be peaceful. As Gandhi said: "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way." Warm and kind regards to everyone.