I was 17 years old and riding my bike through a field in Belgium, where a solitary, almost archetypal tree marked the midway point of the path, giving a feeling of security as night was falling fast, and only the little dynamo bike light broke the looming fears of the imperceptible in the dusk.
There are doorways to infinity and eternity to be opened in riding a bike over the bounded territory of the Belgian wilderness. There is something immediately centering in riding a bike, perhaps anywhere. It could be the circling of the pedals; right-brain, left-brain; the body in motion; the flow of visual perception; the sensations of the rhythm of the earth’s crust beneath the tyres.
Stillness comes forward in motion. As we charge forward, the veils over that which never moves are blown away. As the muscles and tendons tremble, with the blood racing joyfully through the veins and arteries, that which never was attached to blood and bone is shaken out of its shell. As we face our direction, that which has no face is revealed. As time passes, that which allows time to pass, stays still behind the programmed clock of arriving “somewhere” into that timeless gaze which is itself not passing. Through infancy, childhood, now the teenage years, and soon the adult struggle into form, it is always untouched, perhaps even amused.
The right leg in harmony with the left, in harmony with the right, and sailing above, this body, with its destiny, its future along the path, and its past on the track behind, already lost to view.
This was one of those moments – moments that today have become an art and science – moments where there is a paradigm shift in perception. Such moments are often equated with awakening, enlightenment and self-realization (sometimes all three at once). I think it is enough to call them moments: moments in which the momentous breaks open.
So addicted are we to perception, that the flow of consciousness is habitually forwards – towards that which can be ‘seen’. This primal instinct of consciousness is connected with survival – to avoid riding the bike into a hole, or to anticipate the madman in the bushes waiting to pounce.
The expansion of awareness is also habitually outwards – towards the atmosphere of the night, the mystery of the earth as it releases the day’s light, the sense of solitude on a journey.
All of this is fine, an outward natural flow. The shift to the momentous happens, however, when perception literally turns back on itself – like a cyclist stopping in her tracks for no apparent reason and suddenly, senselessly looking back.
Consciousness turns back on itself and awareness melts into itself.
Consciousness stops seeing objects and forms, and looks back at itself – consciousness – delving into its own substance. It becomes shockingly conscious of consciousness, immediately timeless, and alive irrespective of any way or journey.
Awareness stops sensing and become aware of its own ability to sense – suddenly melting in a wonder of vibration – the limitless infinity of Being in feeling.
What is revealed in this shift of direction in which perception looks back at itself, or senses back into the mystery of the sensory, is a whole journey between dimensions. This shift is existential – it leads to sudden existential reset. I am here. A miracle. It’s all here.
Past, present and future collapse in the momentous.
The way home is still there, as is the cycle track, but it is just a temporary aspect of a miracle.
Forwards, backwards, behind and to the sides, North, South, East and West, collapse in the wonder of boundless space. This body on this planet comes to life and beauty.
The feet continue to cycle the pedals. Circling forward through the physical dimension, quite independently of the vast mystery of being here now.
Fear and the destination of death
On this occasion, what fell into the momentous was the coexistence of physical death. It became suddenly clear that death is not an end-point, a destination, at the end of the cycle track of life.
In the collapse of time into the eternal present, there can be a realization that death is always here and now, behind the back, an old, existential friend. It is not “something” that will happen in the future. It is always here – coexisting – in the dimension of the Now – always, eternally.
In this, the fear falls away into the cycle tracks left in the Belgian mud. No more running from that which is always, anyway here – that which has a vast humanity in it – the ‘death’ which has the seamlessly intimate, familiarity of home. Here, behind perception, this death timelessly is. Not manifesting physically, but no stranger at all.
When the moment cracks open into the momentous, we can remember that death is no stranger – just a rhythm of purpose in our universal service to life.
Georgi Y. Johnson is a spiritual teacher and author of I AM HERE – Opening the Windows to Life & Beauty.