What is it to be intimate? The touch of a lover’s hand or lips, perhaps? Two bodies locked together in desire for a common fulfilment; the intellect muted while the emotional and sexual energies dance their own bolero?
We generally associate intimacy with the body, but it’s not always so, and the exceptions can point the way to something much deeper…
The body has its own wisdom, and lives by an organic truth. We can play all sorts of games with our minds, but a bodily ‘state’ is just that – an undeniable and persistent experience that has no form outside of its representation as pleasure or pain. As such it exists at a level beyond misrepresentation.
The ability to move, especially two beings together – like when we dance – might be considered another physical aspect of intimacy, and certainly forms an abiding part of physical passion.
Can we move beyond the physical and retain intimacy? Can intimacy also be exchanged around a dining table, when the pressures of the day give way to a sudden sharing of moment? Or at a meeting with a close, but non-sexual friend, one that we might not see for another decade or so?
Encounter is a good word to set the scene for real intimacy. It implies something new in that meeting of body, heart and sometimes mind – although our usual level of mind can introduce as many problems as it seeks to solve.
We might substitute encounter for what happens in this intimate context; yet how can there be anything new from two organisms that have shared much, before? We could have said ‘different’ and our minds might have felt more secure. Mind can understand different – it builds its picture of the world – our lives – out of differences…
The essence of these kinds of intimacy lies in their potential for opening a new level of awareness – even if that lasts only for seconds or less. In that moment we can glimpse a far more peaceful, harmonious and ‘speaking-to-me’ level of life, as though a liquid nectar has poured from another world into this one.
The deeper level of ‘speaking-to-me’ is not an experience, it is a certainty. There is no room for doubt in one who finds it. The finder moves from possibility into knowing.
Many kinds of love can point the way. Some of them, like the moment of orgasm, are brief, though wonderful. Others are calmer and longer-lasting. Mysticism is founded in the the personal unveiling of the deep intimacy of something behind the self. Many words have been used to describe the qualities of what is found, yet all are doomed to be approximations. Words come from the mind, and the mind is incapable of experiencing what is known without reason.
Only the heart, understood fully and not the subject of romantic trivialisation, will take us there. This is true meditation. To follow that path is to take the openness and trust that normally accompanies physical intimacy and offer it, internally, to that which lies above the mind and is wedded with the heart. This state, if spoken of at all, is referred to in hushed or symbolic terms. One of the best of these is what the Sufi mystics have called ‘The Beloved’.
There is a deep mystery about the beloved that can only be found through a personal journey. She has always been present. She waits; and the only key that will open her chamber is that offering of love, trust and presence spoken of above.
We may think that we already possess these qualities, but life, in its development of the personality, takes the ‘brilliance’ away from our existence – it becomes more important to be secure than to be occasionally touched by the inner parts of who we really are. A certain resolve is needed to re-learn the essential qualities, and then refine them from the darker clay that the outer ‘us’ has become. It’s not an easy journey, but it is mapped out, in many reliable forms, including the Silent Eye’s three-year correspondence course.
We might liken the quest for this deepest of intimacies to the re-finding of a ruby jewel, given by Mother to us in childhood, and which was subsequently lost. For years we searched for it, gradually surrendering to the fact that the vague and fading memory of its glory was all we had left of what was once so precious.
And then, one day, we enter a room in a strange and quiet inner state, to find a drawer in an old cabinet whose existence we had forgotten. Inside is a glowing red jewel, more intimately connected to everything in our lives than we could possibly have imagined.
From then on, the journey becomes one of the heart rather than just the mind, though the mind also finds renewal in the ruby rays, allowing something special to happen to its nature, too…
©️Copyright Stephen Tanham 2017
Steve Tanham is one of three directors of the Silent Eye School. Steve updates his personal blog several times a week at https://stevetanham.wordpress.com/