Last night I was meditating, staring at the old WWII ammunition chest that belonged to my grandfather. Inside the grain I saw the image of an old man leaning over a worktable. The brain struggled to make sense of the wood swirls and, somehow, labeled a particular pattern in this way. I looked away for a few minutes to unsee the old man, but it was no use. Each time I returned to the swirl there he was, still pouring over his project. He could not be unseen once identified and labeled by the brain.
This is the way the mind works and it is difficult to see through the trap of the conditioned grasping, clutching, and labeling brain. It is easy to get carried away by the thinking sickness, the checking and judging and struggle to make sense of things that, in and of themselves, are senseless. This is not a reflection of our True self. It is social conditioning, a ravenous virus of habit mind that feeds on pain and suffering.
This morning during a 5am meditation the brain and eyes wanted to re-see the old man. . .to search, label, and cling to an image from the past. I did not react to the urge, only witnessed it and let it pass.
There never was an old man. There was only a random swirl in the wood grain. It was beautiful just as it was.
Reality is more complex than we would like.
If we insist upon it making sense,
We will find ourselves despairing.
Reality cannot be neatly packaged. . .
Reality is all that is, and that is often at odds
With what we imagine it should be.
–Rabbi Yannai, an early Jewish sage
“The core teaching of the Buddha always has been that all things are dependently arisen, hence fundamentally devoid of any independently lasting substance. All that’s happening in the phenomenal world is an interplay of form and energy that creates a transitory phenomenon in time and space. In our ignorance, we continue to interpret this interplay as real-in-itself. Moreover, as captives of linguistic formulations we even interpret our conceptual thinking to represent something real.”
–from Mu Seong’s The Heart of the Universe
We create our prison out of these four walls: wanting, holding, attaching, and checking.
Wanting: I want a new car. I want to be happy. I want to XYZ. I want enlightenment.
Holding: She said this and I will never forgive her. Twenty years ago, he did ‘this’ and I will never forgive him.
Attaching: I must meditate for two hours a day or I will never attain enlightenment. I must chant for one hour a day or I will be a bad practitioner. I must give up X or I will never be blessed. I can’t miss my morning work-out or my day will be ruined.
Checking: I used to meditate more. I should be spending more time reading the sutras, the Bible, the blah, blah, blah. I need to exercise more, eat healthier. I shoulda coulda woulda. . .
Your prison has four walls. Those walls are wanting, holding, attaching, and checking. You are not your idea of yourself. You are not your thoughts. It is not good or bad. It just is as it is, right now. Be present for it.
“Everything we call real is made out of things that cannot be regarded as real.” – Niels Bohr
“How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.” –Niels Bohr
Enlightenment is a state
A state appearing within the illusion bubble of
world and states
Recognizable by an “I”
—From the Great Unraveling: The Blue Cliff Records
There is always a choice.
Freedom is attained one step at a time.
But if you want joy, renounce the world now.
Control the sense, and stop desiring things.
Letting go of things is the path of the ascetic.
To be attached to anything results in delusion.
On this path, even the body is burdensome,
So why take more baggage?
Your reward will come when you cease maintaining
The illusion of “I” and “mine.”
Only sorrow can come from clinging to likes and dislikes.
Those who renounce everything will find salvation.
All others will remain in delusion.
Fascinating consciousness video.