The tip of an iceberg…. When in a boat and we see an iceberg, we can understand how actually most of that iceberg is not visible to us, it is hidden underneath the surface of the water. Just because it is not visible, does not mean it doesn’t exist.. Just think of the Titanic!
But this being said, just because we visually see the tip of the iceberg, does not mean we understand that tip completely. For example, suppose that tip is not flat, and it is large. There may be a penguin behind part of it that we can’t see. My point is that, we use various ‘tools’ to understand the reality. Our brains use the tool of cognition to understand that the majority of the iceberg is underwater, we use the tool of sight to see the contours of the tip. Each has limitations yet each has the power to illuminate our understanding. In fact, the limitations of the tools are the very thing that gives them power. The limitations of sight, for example, allow a focusing of understanding to occur in a specific way. Our ‘tools’ inherently focus various types of information so they can help us live our lives, make decisions and to understand our reality, our world, our Universe.
So what happens when the use of all our tools is left behind? When our toolbox is thrown out? Is it possible? Is this the Zen of No-mind?
The Buddha understood we all have tools, we are all human, and they exist. How can we live with these tools and yet become enlightened to our true nature? Our tools usually are a hindrance to our awakening…As we grow up, our tools become refined and through trial and error, they get tuned in such a manner in which they work really, really well. We learn what a cloud looks like and we understand that a dog barks. After countless confirmations with our senses and our brains, we no longer have a need to question these tools and their interpretations. This is why optical illusions can be so mind-blowing… and fun! They show us how entrenched our tools are and also how they are limited and also how they are not reality itself.
We need to remove our toolbox from our perception that this is who we are. We are not our toolbox, yet our toolboxes have become our master. We need to learn that we are the master of our toolbox, and not the other way around.
Ultimately, there is no toolbox, and no user, no master. Letting go of our grip is scary and is rooted in the inherent danger of being eaten by a lion if we abandon a tool that has saved our life before, for example!
So, it comes down to attachment, we must learn to not become attached to our tools, use them when they are needed, but let go when they are not and to do this, we must understand the nature of our tools, their origins and their limitations.
Chunk of ice, in our path, our eyes spy… our brains navigate. As we pass it, it is left behind and our sight sees the other shore and we paddle on.
*These photos/graphics are not my own.