I have always been fascinated with where things come from.. what is their origin? I have thought this about many things, from rocks to birds, and to more subtle things like my fondness for ice cream…
Some things can be traced back in a very straight forward kind of way…. Rocks come in 3 main types, igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. Each type has a different origin. Igneous rocks come from the cooling of liquid magma or lava into a solid form. They are, solid lava! And then I think of the next stage… what is lava’s origin? Lava is magma that is above ground.. it originates underground as magma. (It is always important to keep aware that the lava and the magma do not distinguish themselves in this way, this distinction is only a human brain creation!). So, continuing on.. where does magma come from? I suppose the internal heat from the Earth supplies the heat to keep certain minerals/atoms in a liquid state… Where do the minerals come from? Where does the heat come from? The minerals come from the time when the Earth itself formed, some 4+ billion years ago… Where did the Earth come from? From the coalescing of gas and debris from the eruption of a star. Where did that star come from…etc, etc…
All things have an origin. All things did not originate on their own, independent of external forces. This is the principal in Buddhism called co-dependent origination. All things originate dependent on all other things and circumstances.
My science mind thinks all things, when you trace their origins, all come back to the Big Bang… all things are dependant for their existence due to the interplays of all things in the Universe since the Big Bang. My Buddhist mind thinks that a stack of reeds can only stand upright with the help of all the other reeds. One reed cannot stand alone, but 50 reeds can lean on each other, depend on each other and can stand. At the Big Bang, there was no time. In Buddhism, there is the principal of a ‘timeless beginning’.
Buddhism and science are both truth seekers. Both do not attach to things that cannot be figured out. Buddhism uses thought experiments to cut through ignorance. Einstein did the same…. His breakthrough theories started as an experiment done in his brain, thought experiments.
Buddhism seeks one specific origin above all else. Where did you come from? In science, we say we came from a sperm from our father and an egg from our mother. In Zen, it is asked ‘What was your face before you were born?’. Although rebirth is a common accepted view among many Buddhists, the question about your face isn’t about this. It is not asking who you were in a ‘past life’.
Where did we come from? A great Zen Master said it vital to keep a ‘don’t know’ mind. This is a truth mind. This is an honest mind. When you are honest to yourself, brutally honest, you realize you have ‘don’t know’ mind. Then truth is open to you. What do you know? how do you know you know that?! I know water freezes at 32 degrees F. Do I?! How? Have I tested it with a thermometer or have I been taught it throughout my life, or both? How do I know what the thermometer is doing? Have I built it? Calibrated it? How many times have I tested the water? How many different waters have I tested? How many different thermometers have I used? Etc, etc, etc…
What do I KNOW? I don’t know! lol.
Where do we come from?
As a fetus, our thinking brain came after our heart.. our heart-mind came first… It is older… Where did that come from? Is it important?
In Buddhism, the idea of past lives is fairly commonly accepted. However, our ‘don’t know’ mind isn’t so sure! lol. When I recently saw H.H. Dali Lama, he talked about this. He said all the previous Lama’s all had grand visions of their past lives, complete with names and places and events. He said he never has had these. He said’ Past lives? I don’t know. don’t know’.
So I ask again, where do we come from?