The Image: An immense jewel, spectacularly cut and flawless. In the center of the jewel is a pair of hands, moving to the music of Zazen.
When I close my eyes, I am sitting in an auditorium on the SUNY campus. Rama is on the stage in front of me, leading a meditation, and this time has suggested that we all meditate with our eyes closed. I actually prefer meditating that way, so I am happy to oblige.
It's a killer meditation. I can not even form the thought of having a thought. The subjective experience is literally indescribable, because one of its attributes is boundless, infinite silence. But after a few minutes, an image begins to appear in my mind, somehow forming its structure from a world of formless, unstructured light. It is an enormous jewel, floating in interstellar space.
The image is lovely, and I probably would leave well enough alone and slip back into formlessness if it weren't for the vantage point, the particular camera angle from which I am viewing the jewel. I am inside it. Let me tell you, this is an interesting sensation - seated in meditation in the center of an enormous gemstone, viewing the universe reflected in and refracted through its millions of facets. The beauty of it startles me so much that, shocked, I open my eyes.
When I open my eyes, I am sitting in the center of an enormous jewel. I can tell that I am still in an auditorium on the SUNY campus, because I can see the room through the boundaries of the jewel. But I am still sitting inside a jewel, and it's the same jewel. I look up and can see the hundreds of students in the room reflected in thousands of ways in thousands of facets. The entire room is filled with light, brighter and more intense than I have ever seen before, but it is impossible to tell whether the light is coming from outside the jewel or within it.
I look to the stage and see Rama sitting there, his eyes closed. I cannot help but be struck by the fact that the stillness of his body in meditation is a perfect analog to the stillness I was feeling earlier. I sit for a few seconds, amusing myself by comparing the image of Rama on stage with the thousands of reflections of that image in the facets of the jewel.
That's when the jewel starts to move. It doesn't move as a whole. It starts to transform its entire structure, some segments rotating clockwise, others counter-clockwise, others rotating vertically, still others randomly shifting position from one side of the jewel to another, all in perfect time to the music we are meditating to. As I sit there open-mouthed, amazed by the multi-colored planes of light dancing and spinning overhead, Rama opens his eyes and looks around.
He, too seems amazed by the lightballet going on all around him. He holds his hands up in front of his face and stares at them for a few seconds. Then he begins to move his hands to the music, forming different mudras, and watches as the planes of light filling the room move also.
Rama forms a particular mudra and the jewel shifts around us, restructuring itself into the perfect geometric analog of his hands. He moves his hands into a different mudra, and the jewel restructures itself again, following his lead. Rama smiles, as if noticing for the first time that all of this light is coming from him.
It is the best smile I have ever seen on his face, in over eleven years of studying with him.
It is the smile of a child, a child lost in the wonder of discovery. It is the smile of a person completely at ease, free for an instant from the burden of having to be onstage all the time. I turn and scan the room to see if anyone else has their eyes open and can share with me this side of our teacher, but no one does. I guess that makes them better students than I was - they at least can follow instructions - but still I would not trade that moment for any in creation.
Rama doesn't seem to notice me watching him. He sits smiling, moving his hands in a fluid ballet of mudras, 'conducting' both music and light for a few seconds. The jewel follows his every movement perfectly, light dancing with a smiling lightchild.
Finally, Rama shrugs, closes his eyes, and continues to meditate. I close my eyes as well, the image of the jewel and the image of that smile pursuing me into meditation. They pursue me still.