[Two meditations on ‘meditation’ or consciousness. One in ‘narrowspeak’/prose, one in ‘wholespeak’/poetry. This WordPress blog unfortunately left-justifies all poems, so I can’t play around with indentations and spacings, as the original poem here does. Took photos of light on water at the Blue Pool, in the bush not too far from here.]


In and out, words and world, light shrapnel on dark water,
star-flecked canvas of the night,
the mind at work absenting itself in fear, desire for union
with itself as body, panther, mountain,
snail, subtle whispering of tree roots. In the cafe sushi salmon
hits the tongue, monkey
mind leaps to amniotic ocean like filing to magnet, poet to pen.

Hard to stay outside old networks of sense, senselessness,
mind innocent,
pluripotent as an infant wide open to chaos and comforting.
Suddenly this stillness,
sitting under the oak by the dam, like liquid air
no different from sound,
movement, mind flickering on the edge of bliss.


‘… both in and out of the game watching and wondering what will come next…’
– Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Observing our stream of consciousness, we seem to flicker constantly in and out of the Now and memory. One moment I am totally here in the moment, the next I am out of it, mentally, emotionally processing through labelling, comparing, judging, justifying, imagining, anticipating, planning, opinionating etc. All this is happening as continuous subvocal mind chatter, descending like a fine veil over the pure suchness of the moment.

In the more abstract terms of the perennial philosophy, we might say our consciousness seems to flicker between, to move in and out of, Presence and absence, the Timeless and time, the Unconditioned and conditioned. In Buddhist terms we might say between Emptiness and form, Non-Dual and dual, nirvana and samsara, Awareness and ego.

We are beings that flicker like stars, old silent movies, like light on water. When we are daily asked how we are going, we could truthfully answer: I’m not going, I’m flickering.

Let’s try and be a bit more specific. Observing our process of consciousness, every split second we (WHO is this we?) can see an identification happening with an appearing thought or feeling form, a silent ‘big bang’ birthing a subject-object world or universe.
We can clearly see that the mind seems to stick to appearing forms, feelings, thoughts as quickly as a fly to flypaper, a moth to a flame, filings to a seemingly irresistible magnet.

Almost all our time is spent there, in feeling-thinking, in daydreaming and active habitual response, in this self-constructed world of thought, memory and space-time we mistake for ‘reality’. So routine and ‘normal’ does all this seem that the process of habitual identification with arising thoughts and feelings then seems to actually constitute both ‘reality’ and what we think we are, our very identity as a personality or ego.

And then again, miraculously, we (WHO is this we?) can sometimes see a sudden, spontaneous dis-identification, a stepping back, an awareness that ‘we’ are aware of having become stuck, of having identified with a thought or feeling response.

Observing our arising and fading thoughts and feelings from outside them, we seem to be both in the world and out of it, both in the ego and its habitual response patterns, and out of it. As witness or observer we are not the observed (the thought, feeling, response, personal drama), unless we choose to be, unless we identify with it.

Buddha’s Heart Sutra says there is, essentially, no difference in these two apparent states: form is Emptiness, everyday consciousness is enlightenment, samsara is nirvana, ego and non-awareness take place within the larger spaciousness of Awareness. Ultimately, there is nothing but this Awareness, this timeless Now, this boundless isness Here.

And Blake says: ‘Eternity is in love with the productions of time.’ And Whitman, as in our epigram above, says: ‘Both und out of the game, watching and wondering what will come next…’

East and West agree. We flicker, in and out, observer and observed, no-mind and mind, Now and memory-ego, silence and word, emptiness and form. The flickering is the play of light on water, and ripple and river, wave and ocean, are one, and, even more deeply, none.

~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on October 23, 2019.

3 Responses to “Flickering”

  1. i like it…from now on when folks ask me how i’m doing…i’m telling ’em, i’m flickering…!

  2. bewdy, kristi… Maybe also puts a different spin on the ole kids’ nursery rhyme ‘twinkle twinkle little star/how i wonder what you are…’

    (BTW Hotting up here, with some NSW country towns gradually running out of water, with talk of giving up towns and farming…seem to be getting to the oh shit moment quite quickly now…when food and milk prices go thru the roof in the cities, another panic layer will be added…)

  3. hotting up, then flooding, extremes here as well…and i am seeing cracks in the ol’ denial…
    i had an amazing conversation w/ a student yesterday…so aware yet so innocent…middle school mind you…but some of the youth here are not completely blinded by the spectacle…heartening…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: