The Ancient Modern
Behind the Silk Mirror / Joshua Alan Sturgill
Beneath imagination and planning, beneath shame and insecurity (and the anxiety arising therefrom), is a very calm, quiet Place. It is a place neither large nor small, neither open nor confined, neither masculine nor feminine. Timeless, not dark nor light. But this place seems in some way to hold the origin of what becomes all these things. It is a place deeply connected to the body—within the body in some sense, but “within” in the way a garden is within a gate. It is a place, in some sense, beneath thought and imagination, beneath opinion and preference. A place without wants or needs. A place not of expectation, but certainly of readiness and ability.
A wall-less room. A happening. A patience.
This place is nearby, but not easy to find. It is hidden beneath a mirror—a mirror made of very, very fine silk. This placeless place is like a gemstone in a mountain lake, at a depth just below your height, so you would have to look beneath the surface in order to see it, and be completely submerged to reach it. Once you were under the water, you would get it easily.
The difficulty is the mirror, which flows and ripples and reflects back everything with mesmerizing distortion. The sun, the moon and trees reflect from the mirror and prevent your seeing the gemstone. As you come closer, you find your own face in the mirror, too—alternately enhanced and distorted, hidden and revealed. I think many people are looking for this place—this gemstone. People are looking to get close to the mirror, but love what they see and how they appear in it, and don’t want to pass through.
Shame, insecurity, anxiety ripple on the mirror, along with hope, aspiration, possibility. The mirror-self can be mistaken for a better self. The mirror-moon and mirror-trees are unique and fascinating. It was the real moon and trees on one hand, and hope and fear on the other, which first indicated a longing to find a place beyond them all. Saints and sages have suggested where and how to look. But beauty’s image in the mirror and on the water—your own image so close and real you might finally be able to understand or manipulate it—holds you back, a willing captive.
Content with illusions of freedom and illusions of confinement, many are not able to find the Place beyond them both.