Author’s note: I’m aware that this is a very western perspective on life on this planet. Not all of us are experiencing “heaven on earth” and some are very much experiencing a living hell, especially in the Middle East.
It had been six months since the last time I’d seen that multi-storied car park that greets all incoming travellers to the city of Bristol.
Even though my leaving half a year ago had been a mixture of relief and tears, I was panting at the window like a dog to see the familiar sight of that car park again.
A similar feeling had occurred a few days earlier when I left the sub-tropical shores of La Palma. Knowing that I’d be away from my new found home made every almond tree and cactus look greener and spikier than I’d ever noticed before.
In both these cases I was experiencing “The Edge.”
Permaculture practitioners have observed that the edge of any habitat is usually most fertile. The edge of a wood, the meeting between rock and soil, or the lively shore of any sea are abundant with life and nutrients. So it was interesting to observe that this phenomenon also exists in the human experience.
When I first arrive somewhere, or I’m about to leave, or I know that I only have a short time to spend anywhere—or with anyone—it seems that my senses come alive, drawing in every sight, sound and smell.
The short week I spent in Bristol was full of colour, activity and romance. Everywhere I went it seemed that Bristol was doing its best to seduce me and remind me how lively and exciting a place it was. I wondered why I ever left in the first place, when there was so much on offer—a local protest one moment, a spontaneous rave on the pavement the next and everywhere covered in beautiful works of art.
These things are easy to see when you’re experiencing the edge. It’s only when one slips deeper into the rabbit’s fur of routine that we stop seeing the immense beauty and, ultimately, heavenly place we often live in.
Many people travel endlessly for this very reason. The constant movement keeps one in a perpetual state of edge. Drugs can do the same thing. But is there a way to experience ‘edge’ without constant movement, change or LSD?
Experiencing The Moment Through the Body.
One way is through our present-dwelling body. During Satsang—a meeting where disciples ask their guru questions—the guru Mooji explained, as he does in a multiple of ways, that enlightenment lies in awareness. If one can sit in a place of pure awareness, then one is freed from the routine and distractions of the past/future orientated mind. With freedom from these distractions, one is in a constant state of edge—observing what is.
“Don’t see, look”, Mooji advises. And although it is a subtle linguistic difference, in practice the difference is huge. The former is a left brain activity and takes effort, while the latter is right brained and marked by a lack of effort. In fact enlightenment, according to Mooji and Eckhart Tolle (among others), is always a removal of effort—revealing our “true self,” rather than any addition.
Awareness is more easily accessed through the body, so take time every day to feel your body. Start with feeling your feet, then your legs and work your way upwards, feeling your whole body. For me, this practice brings me right here and now and I easily go into a state of looking rather than seeing.
Understanding the Cycles.
In any natural process there is a cyclical element. Staying in a constant state of edge means that soon the edge becomes routine. The edge is a sacred space, a moment where we notice and are fully awake. So just like the cycle of the moon or the cycle of sleep we can’t expect to be “bright” and “awake” all the time.
Get on with your daily routine—do the washing up and go to work, but make sure you set aside a sacred moment of edge every day. You can do this at any time and in any place, whether during work or on the toilet, by feeling into your body—or any other practice that helps keep you connect with the edge.
Creating the Inner Edge.
We can simulate the edge feeling through constant travelling, changing jobs, changing partners or taking class A drugs. But these things can often be unhelpful or unhealthy. So how do we create the edge inside?
For me, learning new things, reading books with alternative perspectives or finding great new bands expand my mental horizons without too many external changes. Anything that challenges our idea of who we are and helps us to keep moving internally will give that sense of edge. This is often much harder than just booking the occasional trip to Thailand but will be cheaper and longer lasting in the end.
Reminding myself that I’m going to die one day is a great way of instantly finding the edge in any moment. Even standing in a supermarket checkout queue can become a fascinating spectacle when I know that one day I won’t be here to experience it. Although it can also cause pain and sadness, it’s possible to transmute these feeling to wonder and it’s a powerful way to remind myself how magical this experience of life is.
The edge is a beautiful place to be. When you have the chance, experience a small bit of edge every day to remind yourself that we’re on this incredible journey through the galaxy, on a microscopic ball of life.
Is Enlightenment an Accident?
Author: Suzanne Williams
Assistant Editor: Hilda Carroll / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Hubble Heritage/Flickr