Gábor Goda: The first One-Day-Turn

(23rd May 2010, Hungary – Pilis Mountains)

We arrived to the yurt on Saturday and just as we had finished unloading our stuff, a huge storm began with incredible pelting rain pouring down on us. Yet, on Sunday, not a single drop fell on Látóhegy. Later, I learnt that there had been several showers in the area that day, which we were saved from, as the rainclouds evaded us. I had four helpers on spot. Gáspár was responsible for the recording, Virág helped Gáspár and took care of the food supply, Bea was there to help me (she looked after me, gave me water and clothing when I needed it) and Palkó, who gave support to everyone (he carried our belongings, brought firewood, made fire, gave technical help and attention). I knew that there would be always someone with me from the Látóhegy people. I felt very safe. Gáspár set up two still cameras that would make an exposure every 29 seconds throughout the 24 hours. That makes about 6000 snaps altogether.

Saturday afternoon I marked the exact place of the turning. This axis-point was about 7 metres away from the Látókő[1] in the direction of the yurt. I determined the spot by walking up and down, paddling, looking around and by the vertical and horizontal perception of the space. My decision was asserted by a blue butterfly landing at my feet, on the chosen spot. It took quite a while until it flew away. Bea made a 1, 5 m wide circle around the axis point, from small stones. For this, she used the stones that had been carried up by the others in March when Látókő was put up. This circle was inevitable to keep the centre point even when I would get tired, so that I could find my way back if I happened to tumble. We hammered down 24 posts on a circle of 12m in diameter around the axis, starting from East, in equal distance from each other. For my orientation in time, we came up with the idea that every hour one of my helpers would stand still for a moment at the spot that marked that given hour and they would point to the next one which I would have to reach by the following sixty minutes. At night they would put torches in the place of the posts, which would be always moved on accordingly.  

May 23

We got up at 4 am on the morning of Pentecost Sunday. By then, I had hardly eaten or drunk anything for three days. My aim was not fasting, but partly slowing down and partly suspending my metabolism. I did not want to interrupt the turning with the physiological needs of my body. I thought I might need to drink a lot when standing in the sun, so in the worst case, I would simply let it happen and wet into my pants.I exercised a little, I did some Thai Chi and at 4.55 I stepped in the circle.

The Sun rose at 4.59.

It has begun.  

Retrospectively, from the point of view of inner happenings, I divided the 24 hours into three parts. The first 7-8 hours were pure hell for me. I thought I was prepared but I soon realised that it would be much harder than I had expected. And I had expected it to be hard, indeed. For a couple of days beforehand, I had been devoured by fear and doubt whether I could make it at all. I knew that it would be impossible to do using my muscles, physical strength or willpower, and that I would actually learn what I need to do while doing it. Yet, at the very moment, standing there in the circle, I forgot everything. The fear, pain and doubt stayed, however.

After half an hour, I felt my body went stiff, my attention was distracted and wandering all around. After two hours passed, I felt tormenting pain in every single cell. After five hours, my mind was covered in fear, fright and despair, with tons of doubt pouncing upon me. At first, I tried making small, then bigger and bigger arm and spine movements in order to grasp and regain my presence and ease the pain. I often felt dizzy, almost fell down, fainted standing still. Very rarely, at times when I could see through my own suffering, I could sense a bush about 10-15 metres away from me, which slowly transformed into a wolf sitting peacefully on the ground. It wasn’t watching me. It was just quietly looking past me. It was the same wolf that had watched the bare Tree in my earlier vision. I knew that this Wolf was me.

After the sixth hour, my clothes and the space surrounding me clutched my chest like strangling armour. I could hardly breathe. The struggle compressed and numbed me. I tried whatever came to my mind to survive. I did silly dance-like movements with my arms then started the Thai Chi 48 Form in its invisibly small, reduced version, followed by Chi Kung practices. I dragged out all techniques that I was familiar with, but nothing helped. I started stamping my feet in order to feel the Earth underneath me and shake up my blood circulation. Panic was growing in me. I will not resist it, what’s more: I’ll die of it. In the meantime, I was overcautious to keep the right direction and position. I strictly abode to the speed and direction of the turning and I remained standing all the way. But then, I simply couldn’t bear it any longer. I lowered my head from my stiff position, I bent my knees a bit, I sank, and leant down with my elbow on my knees. I took a little rest. I vaguely felt that I could move, I could lean a bit, maybe I could do whatever I wished, I could even crouch down. It would not make a difference. I rested on my knees and for about 40 minutes, I was staring at the ground, then I slowly lifted my head, and as if I was waking up I looked around and wondered – What is happening around me? –

I saw Palkó who was carrying firewood up the path. A big Alsatian was dashing out from behind him. It ran around the Látókő, the others, and then it ran to me, inside the circle, sat down at about half a metre from me and watched me. As I was bending down my face was quite close to the dog’s head. – Hello, dog. – I said quietly but audibly. He jumped on me, bit me, licked me, ran around me, almost knocked me over, then he threw himself on its back in front of me. I crouched down to him and started stroking, scratching him. I paid attention to keeping to the right direction in the meantime. The direction, the axis was not interrupted, but I could ease up from the stiffness of my willpower, I could resolve by playing with the dog. The knot inside me loosened, the armour pressing my chest broke up. My mind started to clear out.

In the seventh hour I called on to Mother Earth. I asked for her help and support, which would hold me up so that I could bear my undertaking. However, in the next moment, I apologised and withdrew my request, I felt that I mustn´t put this burden on her; I couldn’t draw this task on her, as this was something I had to do alone. This time it was me who had to take a stand for her.

And then I looked out of myself, from the circle narrowed down on me, from my fear and pain. I looked up and then around, as if I was waking up from a dream, it was not just my mind that knew it, but my whole body felt enlightened by the cosmic Mind that ´This was not about me!´ There is no goal to achieve or record to break, nor do I have to be strong. All there is to do is to dissolve in the Earth, in the air, in the cosmos. I do not have to suffer through the 24 hours, but experience them. Indulge in the unknown. I don’t have to crave for it convulsively, just understand that there is no stake, but humility, acceptance and devotion.

The lowered head, like a mild breeze, blew away the proud and mighty Ego at last. After 7-8 hours, I could finally look out from my narrow self, from the circle that I had drawn around myself just to feel safe and now I saw a miracle: trees, clouds, my helpers, animals, bugs, I could hear sounds, but I sensed all this as I had never done before. I sensed the simplicity and purity of Existence without the evaluating and interpreting constraint of the mind. There was the wholeness of the Earth and Life, in its true complex beauty. Life embraced me, it smiled at me, and I smiled back to it. I admired the radiant Universe, each element of the Earth overwhelmed with love. It was gorgeous. Everything went silent, calmed down and came to a halt. In the next moment the torturing fear and pain was gone. I straightened up, took a deep breath and sensed the gleaming light. Thank you, Mother Earth. You helped me by showing yourself to me. My mind has cleared out. The world has opened up.

The second eight hour cycle began. This experience is beyond description. Words cannot capture it. As the material world overlays reality like a veil, words wrap up truth in the mist of reason. Hence, I ask you not to read the words, but listen closely with your real self. Proper attention is just another word for love, for the purest sensation. Attention is Love in action. It takes in and flows out at the same time. Everything that I experienced can be described by five words: Silence, Peacefulness, Wisdom, Foolishness (or Childishness) and Happiness. Just like the mixture of the rainbow colours will add up to white colour, if I mix all these together, I get Emptiness. I was standing there, rich and full, yet unfailingly empty; fulfilled with emptiness.From this point my attention stayed focused until the last minute of the 24 hours, suffering completely evaded me. There was no doubt, no fear left. But there was no happiness, either. I wanted to laugh, but I could only smile.

There was silence, permeating silence.

Everything comes to life, but nothing happens. A variety of still visions emerges:

A hundred of human faces, the face of a hunter amongst them, animals, the head of a cat and a dog on top of each other, an elephant, a hippopotamus, a crocodile and an E.T.-like creature look up in terror,  a three-headed teddy bear drives Santa Claus’s head on a sledge (that is not pulled by anybody), a dolphin jumping out of the water, a lion with a bunch a flowers in its paw (guarding the yurt), a horse-rider galloping on a buffalo that is being attacked by a jaguar an enormous goose or swan with long neck…

The Earth is not under my feet, it is all over me. It surrounds me. Moreover, I, myself, am the Earth, too. The trees, the animals, the clouds, my four helpers and everything that is alive and that surrounds me is the Earth. This is all Earth. I am absolutely certain that each human being, each pebble, plant and drop of haze is the Earth. They are not part of the Earth, but Earth herself. There is wholeness without separate parts. Nothing exists on its own anymore. Individual ceases to exist. There is no Self any more. For the first time I feel that I am who I am.

Suddenly, the cocoon of the Mind appeared in front of me, the same one that I saw five days ago, but then it had the shape of a 6m egg within which there was Silence. Now, this cocoon or husk becomes as big as the Earth itself and reaches up to the outermost layer of the atmosphere. All that is inside it becomes One. I know that this cocoon could expand even further, but this is all I am capable of right now.

Hello Nirmala, you are the one who sent the dog.

I can hear a buzz-saw, woodcutters. The sound of Motocross riders is approaching. They rumble off behind me. I follow them with my eyes. They enjoy the mountain, the speed. They are also the Earth.

I do not move, just stand there and watch the scenery. I melt into it. I stand there with my arms crossed in front of my chest, with my hands in my pockets, with my hands lowered down. I am not thinking, and yet, I can see and comprehend. Cicada are chirring, wind is blowing the leaves of grass. They are in perfect harmony, like two musical instruments playing in tune. Cicada and the grass. The wind catches up from time to time. The wind has been my friend for a while.

We are so fortunate to have the yurt close by. It gives shelter to my four helpers. There is no trace of rain. I have a raincoat with me. Pheasants are screaming, deer are loitering down in the valley. Sound of an aeroplane. It is also within the cocoon. Quiet acceptance.

I have been standing for 12 hours now.

The Light-Axis pervades through my body and my mind.

The Tree appears. ‘Tis that Tree. However, the Wolf is not there this time. I try to recall the wolf whom I had seen in the fifth hour of my turn, but he is nowhere to find. The Tree is floating in the air. There are no leaves on it, no soil (no Earth) underneath it. The axis runs through the trunk of the Tree. It dashes through me. The Light-Axis streaming from the Cosmos rinses through the Tree. It flows inside the trunk, though the tree is being washed from outside. I don’t understand it, yet I feel it appropriate. The light reaches the roots and slowly builds soil around it. The ball of soil keeps growing until it covers everything; not a single root is sticking out. The Light starts heading upwards from the roots covered in soil. It makes way inside the trunk, but it also strokes the bark. It springs green leaves. Thick and abundant foliage spreads over the Tree. The Tree is glistening. This Light is not a visible light; this lightness is not the opposite of darkness.

There is space for everyone in the husk.

Silence is born. The whole World is silent.

The Sun is burning. I can hear the voice: 7 o’clock.

I have been standing for 14 hours.

Slowly, I turn. I drink. I eat a piece of glucose tab.

The immediate reality and visions are coexisting. The walkway between them is unhindered.

I kneel down a bit. I get on all fours. The scent of the Earth. Ants.

I stand up in delight. Juli and István are smiling.

The flow is getting stronger.

It pours in me through the top of my head, it penetrates into the Earth, permeates and saturates it, then wells up and leaves again. I straighten my spine, I widen the channel.

Eight o’clock!

Palkó is standing at the posts and points at the next one to go. He radiates strength. I ask him to crack my back. He folds his arms around me from the back, I let the air out, he grips me, the spine cracks. Meanwhile, we are aware of keeping the direction. Gáspár checks the cameras, Bea is there to give me water when I get thirsty, Virág is down at the yurt. Attendance and care embraces me.

The Sun starts setting. Shadows are getting longer. Lights are sharp. I feel the approaching night. What keeps me up is sensing the beauty of the world. Thus, what am I going to wonder at during the night, when the scenery, the sky is covered in darkness? Will the fear return? No, it won’t. The trees and the mountains are there in the dark, too. Clouds keep drifting in the night sky as well. At night, everything is just as beautiful as at daylight, I am just not capable of seeing it. The world is glistening in the dark, too. Earth is beautiful in the dark, I am the Earth, we are the Earth.

And the stars are there in the sky at daylight as well, even though we don’t see them.

What a delight it is to be standing.

Gábor – I hear my name. A Voice calls my name.

The last minutes of the setting Sun. From the valley, invisibly, almost hiding in the forest framing the meadow a Voice is calling my name. I have heard my name called many times in my life, but this Voice is different from all that I have ever heard. It is enormous, warm, sublime and embracing. The Voice has spatial dimension too, just like a warm wind, or breeze has its own space. I don’t feel it merely reaching my body, but I can also feel it reaching everything and everyone else. The Voice quietly, yet intently resounds throughout the whole valley, the whole Earth. The Voice echoes endlessly in me. It might be a female Voice, but no, it has no gender, it has a quality that goes beyond all definition. This is not somebody’s voice. This Voice is The Voice.

The Sun has gone down. Since I first heard the voice, I feel strong enough to welcome the night.  I am not afraid. I know that it will be hard, but not as hard as the beginning was.

9 o’clock. 16 hours have passed. The third, and last 8 hours begin.

I am not standing here – I am standing everywhere.

Palkó and Gáspár light the torches. They make a fire, but the wind blows the smoke in my direction. I tell them that they will smoke me out this way. They move the fire to another place. We need the fire to have enough light for the cameras at night. They place the fire just in my eyesight, in the direction where I stand.

They eat together, roast sausage and onion in the fire. They pull up, holding their broaches in the fire. They are tired and hungry. It’s funny to see them munching on food right in front of me. It doesn’t bother me at all. I look over the fire, and see the valley, the forest, the animals and the sky are glistening in the dark behind. There is Life behind life. I feel the light of the fire close to me, it could blind me easily. I have to pay attention to be able to see what’s beyond it.

Stars. The sounds of continuous exposition pin moments in the timelessness. I stagger. But I don’t fall. My soles are tired. Then I realize:

My road is neither in front of me, nor is it behind me –  

My road is just under my feet.

Glucose tab

The torch moves. 11 o’clock.

The others are asleep, though they rouse up from time to time.

There is silence. By now, I am only standing around. I watch the stars. I put the weight from one leg to the other. I put the hood on my head. I turn 1 degree.

12 o’clock, 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock

I ask for a stick to reel on a little bit. The stick is bent. I bend to it.

Path of Life. Three times eight hours.

The tormenting first third; the far-from-happy childhood. The ‘happy childhood’ idea is nothing but an illusion of grown-ups. A child is full of fear, pain and suffering. The end is still far away.

The second third is the adult life: the liberation of the child inside me, keeping foolishness alive and the time of awareness. Seeing the end of the road, I can appreciate the beauty of Life.

The 3rd third: tired body and peaceful mind.

3 o’clock, 4 o’clock – the 23rd hour

Daybreak. Birds are giving a morning concert.

The last, 24th hour has started! – I can hear Palkó’s voice.

I let the stick go. I straighten up. I want to stand alone, without support. I give myself to the Earth again.

The world is filled with new visions immediately. The faces appear. I turn slowly. I live through each moment. I turn slowly, but I no longer know which way, as it is not the end of the circle but the beginning.

The rising Sun strokes yet another smile on my face, and in my heart.

It is 5 o’clock in the morning. 24 hours have passed.

Nothing is the same as before.

29th May, Veszprém

[1] Látókő – English translation of the name: Watcher Stone or Seeing Stone