Distinguish-ation

Woof.

Woof.

Our senses distinguish…. That is not an incomplete sentence.* I was going to write ‘Our senses distinguish things’.. but I stopped myself. Our senses make things.. through distinguishation.  Wow, that is an ugly made-up word! Lol. Distinguishation. Perhaps differentiation is better.

So, our eyes see brown, our hands feel roughness, our nose smells cinnamon**, our tongue tastes wood***, our ears hear… cracking?,… our mind makes soup with them and it becomes Bark. Bark soup.  Now, it is our brains making bark… but surely the bark had to pre-exist for it to make our mouths taste cinnamon. We didn’t just make that up!!

So, Is it possible that the Universe is simply a creation of our brain’s soup making? Is it possible that soup is made from the Universe?

I remember reading about a Zen teacher who said that when our minds cease to exist, the Universe ceases to exist. This is a tough pill to swallow.. surely before I was born and certainly after I die, the Sun will still rise in the East.. for billions of more years.. it doesn’t rely its existence on me! OR does it?! How could it? It is such a super-selfish way of thinking.. The Universe literally exists for me… because of me!!

Now, it is not that way, not exactly. But there is something there… Something to think about.. Why would a teacher of Zen teach something that seems to reinforce the importance of EGO? Surely he should do the opposite! Lol.

I thought lots about this. Why would he say that?

Lets think about it…

The Buddha said that our lives are like dreams…. Not dreams, but like dreams… they are illusionary.. they are real, but not what they seem. Where does this life-long illusion come from? Our Ego-mind. Our perception that we are separate from the Universe. ‘There is the Universe and then there is me.’ This separation is illusionary, so when we realize this, not simply understand it, but realize this, both our ‘mind’ and the ‘Universe’ cease to exist.

The Buddha, when he realized his Enlightened nature, he did not disappear into thin air! Lol. He taught, he walked, he ate and urinated and defecated. And if someone yelled over to him ‘Yo Gautama, over here dude!’****, he would understand that he was being called. Although he realized his selfless nature, he still understood what Gautama meant.

So, when we die, the Universe, our illusion of the Universe dies too. Is there a real Universe beyond the illusion? Is not the illusion based on something?  The Buddha said our lives are like dreams, but he did not say they are dreams.

So, if a Zen Master picks up a rock and asks you if that rock exists.. how do you answer? If you say no, it doesn’t it is just an illusion, he may hit you upside the head with it, perhaps saying ‘How’s that illusion feel now?!’ Haha. If you say yes, it does exist but you do not know its reality beyond its illusion, he may throw it at you and make you duck, saying ‘if you do not know what ‘rock’ is, then how did you know to duck. You know rock.’

* Well, perhaps it technically is an incomplete sentence, I don’t know.. I am a scientist not a writer, lol.

** Cinnamon is just a type of tree bark, though not the one pictured above.

*** Why are we licking bark? lol

**** Gautama is one of the Buddha’s names.

Practice? Sure.. But When?!

Don't wait for the pile to go down before you Practice... The pile is your Practice!

Don’t wait for the pile to go down before you Practice… The pile is your Practice!

Sometimes life gets so busy that we may feel as if we need to ‘clear our plate’ before we can begin to focus on our spiritual development.. or any other development for that matter. ‘How can I have a clear, single-mind when I have 8 different things I need to keep in the forefront of my mind… I have to pick up that prescription, buy groceries, book the car in for a tune-up, sort the kids clothes that no longer fit, fold and put away the laundry, and on and on and on…..’

And if and when we get to those times when our plate is actually clear, we may tend to want to just chill-out, put our feet up and read a good book or watch some tv..

So, our Practice, our development, goes stagnant.

We can brush this off with reassuring thoughts… ‘well, I have been too busy and I deserve to simply rest’..

I remember reading a long time ago about a story of a Zen center in the Far East. It was in a busy city, I believe, and there were lots of car horns, traffic, sirens and the rest making lots and lots of noise outside. And in the evenings when it got a bit quieter, feral cats who had made a home under the monastery would make a huge racket themselves, with fighting, playing, mating and the rest.

So, thinking we need a quiet environment, a quiet place with no responsibilities looming over us, to meditate properly is, well, something we need to overcome. There will never be a perfect time to practice, never be a perfect place to practice. And if there was a perfect place and time, then great, but our minds just might think too much about how perfect it is! Lol.

So, our lives may be hectic, but it is in those hectic moments that our practice may mean the most… and also those moments may in fact be the best time and place to actual do our practice.

Looking

accurate but not quite precise.... Is our vision 'wrong' if we need glasses?

Precise but not quite accurate…. Is our vision ‘wrong’ if we need glasses? Be careful how you answer, you may get pricked! 

Sometimes when we look directly at something, we get saturated with what we see and clarity fails…we might have precision, but accuracy of what it is lacks…. So we look slightly away from what we what to view and it comes back in our peripheral vision. It is now accurate but the precision is out.

Is it possible to view Enlightenment both accurately and precisely? It reminds me of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle… You can’t know where a particle is and also know its momentum at the same time.

Now, Enlightenment is not an electron! lol.

What dictates our lives?

We can mow the grass or let it grow...

We can mow the grass or let it grow…

Some people wander through life letting the circumstances surrounding them to dictate their lives. Some people carefully construct the circumstances around their lives so they can dictate their lives.

Now, life, and people, are not that simple.. though people can tend to fall within one camp or the other…. One side says that the World is the master and we follow it and the other side says we are the master and make the world follow us.

Of course controlling circumstances can never be a one-way street… so it is important to realize this two-way flow…. So, if you feel that ‘fate’ controls your life for the most part…. It is time to contemplate the fact that it controls less than you realize and that you have more control than you understand. Experiment, and find just how much control you have. Conversely, if you feel that your ‘free will’ dictates your life… it may be time to think about how little control you actually have… how much reliance is placed on external functions.

So, it is important to have a good balance… to make sure we do not have bad self-worth, but also to make sure we do not have too much self-worth! Lol. Both feed our ego mind.

In the end, fate and free will are inventions, illusions…. They depend on the separation of ourselves from the world, which is illusionary, so they crumble away in an instant.

So, there is this dance. I write often about this dance… the dance we have with the Universe. It loves to dance.. .to dance with us…a joyful give and take… full of love and interplay…

The Finality of Infinity

lots and lots of flowers.... how many before there are an infinite amount?! hahaha.

lots and lots of flowers…. how many before there are an infinite amount?! hahaha.

I think about whether the Universe is infinite quite a bit. It really fascinates me. One path of thinking my brain takes me shows that it is beyond ludicrous for it to be infinite… there would be an infinite amount of totally insane things occurring that my mind simply can’t accept. However, another path of thinking my brain takes me along shows me that it has to be infinite. There simply cannot be an end.

This is a paradox. This is my own koan, if you will.

So, I begin to think about what the word ‘infinite’ actually means. Does the word even make sense?

Now, in Buddhism, there is no beginning, there is ‘co-dependant origination’… the beginning-less beginning.  Nothing is born without being held up by all other things. So… it seems to follow that there is no end… the endless ending.

What is it that cannot even begin yet also can never end?

Fifty feet below Pluto’s surface, a golden Buddha is buried, fluorescing throughout the ice. A demon flies in Saturn’s rings and a pine tree on Earth makes its cones.

Rain patters a metal roof as coffee warms up dry bones.

The Trickster Universe

What we seek is bound by our illusions...it is right in front of our eyes.

What we seek is bound by our illusions…it is right in front of our eyes.

The cosmos’s fabric reveals its bumps within the shadows we overlook. Peering down the hole illuminates the darkness and the lumps smooth into one, destroying the hidden connections which never existed.

We sometimes find unimaginable treasures… truths and realizations which link vastly separate and distinct things and then in this instant, these very links reveal that all links fall away.

We are given the most valuable thing, yet this same thing takes all value away.

Sometimes you have to laugh at the witty Universe, oh you clever trickster, full of only Love, hiding in plain sight.

Everything… today.

fleetingly forever

fleetingly forever

Contained within a moment exists all that ever was and all that ever will be. How can it be any other way? Just as the Big Bang contained all that ever could exist, it is that same right now, billions of years later.

In that moment, billions of years ago, there was no time, no space, no matter… vast emptiness… yet it certainly was not nothingness. It was everything-ness! Lol. And perhaps that emptiness wasn’t vast, but the opposite… tinier than tiny, lol. In fact, size didn’t exist. There was just emptiness. The fullest emptiness ever, lol.

That moment, it was timeless, and, by definition, it penetrates now. It transcends now. It is now.

The speed of light is the cosmic speed limit, yet within a Universe that began timeless, that limit doesn’t apply… it cannot apply.

Feeling one with all that is… feeling interconnected with all that is….. these are not airy-fairy, hippy-dippy words. They are not head-in-the-clouds, out of touch with ‘reality’ words. Yes, they can be, and perhaps they frequently are used in that manner, but when purpose and intent fall away from these words… these words ring true…ring Truth.

Now, I am not trying to say that science proves transcendental wisdom, that physics proves Buddhist philosophy.

Seeking truth requires honesty. It also requires courage… courage to temporarily let go of our deepest beliefs and see what we see remains.

A soft heart is not a weak heart… its softness actually is its strength. Let’s melt our hardened hearts a bit, let go of what we think is ‘protecting’ them and see what happens. What Truth emerges today? It has been patient for billions of years… is today a day for its freedom? For our freedom?

Shortcomings

A different night to the story below, but the song remains the same. Love.

A different night to the story below, but the song remains the same. Love.

Being kind to ourselves is sometimes the hardest thing to do. We constantly judge ourselves and perhaps magnify what we feel are our shortcomings. We never therefore are the person we think we should be. Who should we be if not who we already are?

Now, I feel I should be an understanding father, for example. And sometimes,  when I am feeling ill, for example, I will not be so understanding as a father. The other night, when reading bedtime stories to my 4-year-old son, he said he was thirsty. I was tired, in pain and wanted him to fall asleep already. I was impatient and the thought of having to walk down the stairs to get a glass of water made me imagine the burden on my hurting legs. I was fed-up. He also said his feet were cold and wanted socks on. I admit, I brushed his requests off and told him no, and to go to sleep. I was almost angry. Then I looked at his face.  He is 4. He was sad. He was cold and thirsty and I was being, well, frankly a jerk. To my own son. I swallowed my ego-mind, looked at him in the eyes and told him I was sorry, and I will get him water and kissed his head. His sad face melted a bit. After I got his water and he was drinking it, I got him some socks and put them on his feet for him. We laid down and he held me tight., now with a smile. I read him a story from his favorite night-time book and he quickly fell asleep.

I would have cried if I wasn’t still feeling angry.. though my anger was now at myself. I accepted my shortcoming and moved on…. But getting back to my opening … I think I should be a better father, and this keeps me trying,trying trying to always be the best father…but it also means I never accept myself for who I am right now. Sure, I never want to be complacent and think I am the world’s best papa, but I also know living in the future of some version of myself is not helpful.

So, there is a balance. Accepting who I am right now, but not giving up on becoming more… to unfold the Buddha already inherent inside me.

Reading a bedtime story can be the best Buddhist practice. Learning about compassion is there. Learning about Ego is there. Learning of acceptance and non-attachment is there. Learning about love is there.