Mirrors are strange things to me. Whenever I look in a mirror I’m always surprised to see anything there. And when I look in one mirror that’s reflecting me from another mirror, I’m even more surprised.
Quite a few years ago I used to do a meditation practice in which I’d sit and gaze at myself in a mirror—not staring, non-blinking—but just looking softly. After a short period of time I’d notice that my face would start to change into other faces, faces I didn’t recognize, people I didn’t know. If I kept going and didn’t get lost in the faces I would eventually see no one in the mirror, as if there were no one looking in the mirror at all. I’d see whatever was behind me; I’d see the room reflected in the mirror as if I weren’t there at all, as if I were completely transparent.This would last for several hours afterward, so that I would walk by a mirror and not see anything in it except for the reflection of the room.
I was walking down the street in Edmonton one Saturday afternoon, after doing the mirror meditation, when suddenly all the people on the sidewalk turned into blue-white stars who were holding their bodies and their lives in front of themselves the way people hold up masks on sticks at masquerade balls. As I continued walking, everything dissolved into infinite bright light and then flicked back again to the people with their stick masks, then back to the infinite light, then back to the stick masks—back and forth, on and off as though someone were flipping a light switch on and off. The strangest part of it was that I felt as though I was ‘on’ when the stick-mask world was ‘off’, and that I was ‘off’ when the stick-mask world was ‘on’. And I wondered if the people in the stick-mask world could see me at all, or what, if anything, they were seeing. Or was I just not there, or was I transparent the way I was in the mirror meditation.