When I was giving birth, the circumstances were very different from hospital births today. I was mostly alone, with occasional checkups from a nurse. I was young and no one spoke about what to expect; they just chirped, “You’re doing fine” or, worse, “A few more hours.” This was little comfort. There was no escape, no choice but to allow the body to go through the fire of physical transformation during labor.
As the day crawled by, I remember staring at the white hospital tiles wondering, amazed: “Is this how every single person comes into this world?” When twilight came, the tiles turned blue. I had a vision where my body and I disappeared into a vivid boundless space of equanimity and understanding where everything was clear. There was no pain. It was surprising, and stunning while it lasted.
Since that time, I’ve always been interested in the question: what’s left when we burn through our pain or suffering? What lies on the other side of suffering? Isn’t our mindfulness practice meant for discovering our place in this vast space of being?
Remembering this unbidden experience brings a lot of confidence and trust. It happened before I ever learned to meditate, during one of life’s most common occurrences (take a look at the world clock, to see how many times per second childbirth occurs! www.worldometers.info/world-population/).
It didn’t happen from practicing anything special or from hearing teachings. It happened from the sheer choicelessness of the situation, the ordinary miracle of giving birth. It showed me that all of us are – and can see ourselves as – life itself, universal life in the form of you, of me, of this moment. We can know in a powerful, unmistakable way that life, aliveness, intelligence – what we sometimes call God or Buddha Nature or the Life of all Worlds — does pervade the whole universe, manifesting in the experience of this very moment, right here, right now.
Image Credit: T. Goodman