Nowvana: the joy one experiences of being nowhere: now and here. It is a place of presence, when both the past and future dissolve in present living awareness. It is the joy of now. Being present to the wonder, richness and delight that this provides.
Often along the journey walking from London to Jerusalem I have no idea what our end point is for the day. I don’t know what villages we will pass through or terrain. It is all a new discovery.
It also makes me realise that every moment is a new discovery if we are able to maintain present awareness.
When I am able to maintain this present awareness these moments are magical. I am joyful. I experience inner peace. It isn’t always possible to keep this tranquility alive as thoughts invade this inner sanctum.
In fact, it is difficult to keep thoughts at bay for any length of time. However, we can acknowledge these thoughts as simply being thoughts, not giving them weight, knowing that they come and allowing them to go. This gives you space to return to the business of just being.
There are moments along the journey such as walking along a long straight stretch of busy road in the blazing heat for kilometres on end that I find particularly interesting how my mind can respond. I can choose to focus on my sore feet, the continual need to be alert of the traffic speeding past, the intense heat and sweat pouring out from me. Or, I can just zen in.
Zening in is simply allowing all thoughts to exit as quick as they have entered. It is only when we give meaning to thoughts that they weigh and slow us down.
It is weird landscape to traverse. Just like the long straight roads are kind of nowhere land areas in between zones of interest, zenes, or zen zones, are spaces in between thoughts. Not much happens in these places, yet at the same time a lot does.
They are zones of quietness. Regions between thoughts. Spaces that aren’t particularly picturesque yet somehow memorable as those spaces can be very brief yet can feel like they last forever.
Like I said, not a lot happens in Nowhere Land. It is a quiet kind of neighbourhood. I am reminded of some of the lyrics of the Beatle’s song, Nowhere Man:
He’s a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody
Doesn’t have a point of view
Knows not where he’s going to
Isn’t he a lot like you and me?
One could see this as a melancholic song about not having direction in life, which no doubt many of us have been afflicted with. Yet in this nowhere land, it is this space in-between that creativity can have time to bubble away.
In fact, this fallow land can provide us with zenergy. It is in these quiet times between thoughts that our mind and soul can rest, recover, and rejuvenate.
Allow yourself to enter this nowhere land. Enter the zene where thoughts pass by like cars and you remain unperturbed, an observer, unattached to those thoughts, with ‘no point of view’, not knowing where those thoughts are going to, non-judgemental, neither good or bad.
Often in life we are so busy trying to get somewhere some place that we put so much energy in that future that we lose the joy of the present moment.
It is only when we ‘forget about our life for a while’ that we realise that life is in those moments of forgetting our past or future for a moment.
Thoughts are simply a figment of our imagination, they don’t really exist. They aren’t something we can physically touch, taste, hold onto. All there is is now and here. Nowhere.
When we get nowhere, we finally have arrived somewhere some place.
Zening in isn’t a once in a moment realisation or action but something we need to work at. For some there are pay offs to live in the past or the future. It may help to prop up our story about what happened in the past or how we won’t be happy till something is achieved in our future.
Zenephobia isn’t the fear of strangers. It is the fear of the strange. It is the fear or mistrust of entering the present moment. The fear of zening in. That somehow the present is less real than the future in our head. We are strange characters aren’t we?
Think about the times in your life where you really felt zened in? Can you remember moments of joy no matter how brief that you wished would last forever? Some may remember their first kiss or their wedding day as a time we wished time would stand still. Yet they need not be major life events.
Sometimes there are moments that you may catch yourself in the day zening in. It may be when you are in a really good conversation with someone. Where you are listening intently to another and can you feel yourself coming alive. It may be having a cup of coffee in the morning, a moment of stillness when you feel a deep sense of gratitude as you take a sip and hear the morning waking up – the sounds of birds, you see the dew scintillating with the first rays of sun on the lawn, looking into the eyes of your children.
You can’t always manufacture zen moments. They come…and they go. We just need to walk towards nowhere land. We need to become more aware of our thoughts. Meditation can be a great exercise to help you zen in. In can help set the ‘mood’ for the day. It can provide a quiet place, that middle ground in between thoughts. It can take you into the zene. It can ‘set the zene’.
As we walk further south through Italy, the landscape is getting progressively drier and drier and flatter. Most rivers we crossed were bone dry. Harvesting of many fields is over in many areas. The ground is brown and dry.
We walk into larger towns and cities and there is that ‘middle land’, that land ‘in-between’ that isn’t particularly interesting. It is a space inhabited by suburbs, industrial complexes, big box stores, warehouses, dried fields, busy roads.
Yet these in-between places can become a place of suffering or we can see them as passing landscape, passing thoughts, and if we look in between the cracks in the pavement, there can still be moments of delightenment.
When we are able to enter nowhere land. When we really get nowhere and can be present to the now and here even these through places can be opportunities for delightenment.
Delightenment is when that bubbling of joy comes to the surface. Little moments of discovery. Little glimpses of the present that takes us out of our mind and allows our soul to bathe in the light of bliss, of nowvana.
Just like nirvana not being some future heavenly place, nowvana is set in the present moment. It is when we are in the zene.
Our thoughts are passing traffic. We pass through the landscape and bathe in the delight and the revelations that presence brings.
We feel the deep waters of gratitude wash over us. Their cooling refreshing waters give us renewed energy.
We get lost in the now till the moment we feel attachment to this bliss or whe one of these thoughts slows down and we realise it is judgement arising. Then in an instant, nowvana disappears like magic. The same magic that brought it into being has whisked it away.
Now and Zen
Nowhere land isn’t a particularly interesting place to walk through it may seem. Yet when we do, just for a moment, till we begin to feel attachment forming can we experience nowvana.
I wish you well in your own travels along life. May you get nowhere and often. May you to discover nowhere land and the magic that is in being now and here.