The past and the future …. Many people have their minds existing in these illusionary places…. Living in the past or dreaming of the future…. In Zen, it could said that we strive to have our minds exist in the present moment..To be mindful of what is occurring now.
In practice, it may seem very hard to truly be ‘in the present’ ‘in the moment’ ..
At some point, after meditation and deep thought, a certain realization may occur… This striving to be in the moment, to stop living in the past and to stop desiring the future… is not very hard at all. In fact, we may see the opposite.. it is very hard to live in the past, and very hard dreaming of the future!
So, say, for example, we try to reverse our goal – to avoid fully living in the present and only live in the past and future – we realize something – you can’t escape the present! You simply can’t do it! lol
So, we may reach a point where we see that this is all there is.. this present moment – we may see that in this present moment, we can think of the past, we can visualize the future – but its only done right now. It can only be that way. This is all you have. It is really, really simple. This is it. Right now. It can never leave you no matter how hard you try!
All of the past and all of the future can only be contained and exist in the present. The arrow of time is not straight…. Just as the horizon on Earth makes the world seem flat.. at some point we can begin to see it’s not straight, not flat and it curves…so much it loops back onto itself. This is how the future can influence the past. Sound crazy? Perhaps! Lol. But the scientific method of seeking truth is also coming to this realization.
So what does this all mean other than giving me a headache? Lol.
For me, sometimes when I am struggling and suffering, I try to think about my ‘future Richard’ – and I know he has my back and I know he is affecting me right here, right now, sending me deep love and understanding. I love that guy.
Of course these are all just words, just models, conceptions.. but I hope they may serve as a medicine when taken as directed. 😉
In a flash of clarity, a path is illuminated before us. We treasure that experience and hold this direction, this image, this path close to our hearts and follow it with deep faith. The faith is unshakable as the clarity, this vision, was not shown to us by another, not read in a book or explained during a speech. We experienced it ourselves directly so there is no doubt.
Years pass and while this path may have proven itself well time after time, the clarity of our memory may fade. Even if the clarity doesn’t fade, as we progress down the path, we only were shown part of the path… eventually we reach the end of our vision. Where do we go from there?
This may happen without us realizing it and we blindly forge ahead, but now with a false confidence, a blind faith, and when we stumble, we might not learn from it but instead think it’s just a rough part of the path. We may defend our path and get angry and disillusioned and then despair appears.
The Buddha dying words were to be a lamp unto ourselves. But what do we do if we can’t remember how to turn on our flashlight? Imagine you are in the forest with steep cliffs all around. It is pitch black during the dead of night. Do you blindly forge ahead? Sometimes it is not wise to try to forge ahead, but remain calm, steady and unmoving. Eventually, like as in the forest, the sun will rise and show us the way home. Sometimes while we wait for the sunrise, we realize our eyes have adjusted to the dark and we see the path, oh so faintly but that’s all we need, and we can make slow progress.
In the end, there is no path, no progress, we are already home but it is sometimes useful to trick our minds into turning back on our flashlights.
In my last post, I wrote that compassionate acts are the Way. I also wrote that acts of horrific violence are also the Way. I feel I need to ensure it is clear what I mean by that. I do not condone acts of violence. Acts of violence will not help dissolve the illusion of our ego-mind. In very practical terms, they are not the Way. However, what I was doing, was referring to the operation of the Universe. In one sense, if any actions do not violate the laws of physics, then they are the Way of the cosmos. The Way is not merely the laws of physics though.
So, what am I saying? I suppose it is all about natural function and flow. I am reminded of the following comic:
Now, a penguins natural function is not to climb trees. It can sure as hell try, and may even get somewhere. What is a humans natural function? What is you natural function?
Now, of course, the great thing about evolution is that animals (and plants, etc) can adapt so over time, a penguin would become an excellent tree climber!* So, there is a dance. We must learn our natural function and be in tune with that, but also be open to the fact that our ‘natural function’ is empty of inherent substance. It is always in flux. So we dance with our abilities, what we have been adapted to do, along with those things we are not adapted to do and therefore sometimes we trip and fall flat on our face!
I have veered away from my point however, lol. In the end, our natural function is about allowing the Universe to flow freely through us, beyond us. Our ‘free will’ and our ‘fate’ both dissolve into meaningless…. Neither exist as the Universe flows.
When we dissolve our ego-minds, who is left to experience free will or fate? Both are illusionary traps.
I trust the Universe and the Universe trusts me, we make the best team, the natural team, its our natural function, is it not?
*I seem to recall that maybe there are some tree climbing penguin species down in South America’s tip perhaps. Maybe I am wrong though!
The Cosmos is filled with transcendent light.
Quantum superpositions layer my brain with riddles.
The sound of one hand clapping…..
This particle is both here and there, it has experienced all possible outcomes, yet only one outcome emerges victorious.
Is it like this?
The Universe is beyond comprehension. Through comprehension, this truth is illuminated.
Although it is possible that the position of an electron orbiting an atom in a neurotransmitter in my brain is currently on Pluto, it is not likely. However, it is possible, and in fact, it has experienced this possible ‘history’. What does that mean?
It means the Universe is utterly amazing!!! Now, I have simplified/bastardized the physics somewhat, and that’s OK, I feel, as the crux of my message is intact….. That the Universe, when studied scientifically, is beyond bizarre and appears to contradict itself.
We are the Universe perceiving itself. What do you perceive? Is it yours? Does your perception capture Neptune’s atmosphere? Pluto’s surface? Does it matter?
Science is a truth seeker. Religion is a truth seeker. Both can be corrupted in intent. Both can be pure in intent.
An honest heart coupled with a focused brain captures the essence of both, religion and science. Our hearts are like our religious/spiritual self… they know truth but can’t prove it. Our brains are like our scientific self… they can prove things but know those proofs are built on foundations of other proofs, which are built on other proofs.. until…. we understand that all truths are a house of cards.
So, our hearts and brains in balance provide a great team to find Truth. When our brains prove something is true but our hearts don’t believe it, then scepticism emerges, for good or bad. When our hearts know something is true but our brains can’t prove it, then scepticism emerges here too.
So, we should trust our hearts and make our brains prove it!
Of course, ultimately, there is no heart, no brain, that is an island to itself. ‘Our’ hearts, ‘our’ brains… whose are they? Where is the boundary of our compassion and thoughts?
In the end, I simply know that I don’t know and that’s enough knowledge. Being honest, accepting the uncertainty of all things, including our ‘knowledge’, frees us from boundaries we previously laid down for ourselves. Sure, these boundaries are normal, and natural, is it a good idea to ‘know’ that a lion might eat you!! But attaching to our ‘knowledge’ as reality and as Truth is dangerous and eventually will make us suffer, as we will always be ensnarled in its web of mirrors.
The tiger is always lurking.
We can ignore him, we can run from him, we can challenge him.
But he is always there, always watching you. Waiting.
Now, one day this tiger will eat you. You know that. He knows that. He eats all beings.
So, do we run from the tiger? Do we challenge the tiger? Do we ignore the tiger? We can’t kill the tiger, so what do we do?
We can tremble in fear, knowing we will be eaten. We can get angry and attack the tiger (though we know who will win). We can ignore him, hoping he will get bored and go away.
Or we can accept him. He has a job to do. If we befriend him, perhaps when he comes to eat us, it will be a joyful occurence. Well, maybe joyful isn’t correct. If we befriend him, a freedom emerges and we no longer become bound living in fear of death.
A fish drum beats in tune with our heart and reminds us of the awareness that is ever-present.
Even a cloudy sky feels the moon beyond. Don’t let our cloud minds trick us… just being aware of the clouds is all that’s required.
In our confusion, enlightenment dwells, seek it nowhere else, and this is all there is.
In our clarity, enlightenment dwells, seek it nowhere else, and this is all there is.
Acceptance of ‘this is all there is’ makes us drop the seeking, and Enlightenment’s dwelling burns to the ground and its ashes nourish all beings.
My son and I explored a giant leaf last year and we were mightily impressed with its size. My little guy tried to take it with him, so I explained that we didn’t need it, so lets just leave it and admire it.
Mother nature has always held a special place in my heart. I believe the late great Folk legend Pete Seeger was quoted as saying something like ‘When i am walking in the woods, I feel as though I am in church’. I, too, get this amazing powerful, deep feeling when immersed within mother nature.
In Buddhism, we talk about ‘leaving home’. Walking in the deep woods can be ‘returning home’.
In the Oxherding pictures, we talk about ‘returning to the source’. Being enveloped, embraced, cuddled like a mother to a baby, by our Earth mother, is a powerful experience. When one is open to such an embrace, our sense of self naturally fades away and we may realize our deep faith in the interdependency and interconnectedness of all that is. These are not just airy-fairy words that sound pretty. When we allow ourselves to fall into Mother nature, allow ourselves to fall into love with Mother Nature, she always catches us, and sets us free from our own self-clinging.
Birds chirp and a branch falls, a stream trickles and a mole sleeps in his burrow. Already complete, we all are already Buddhas.
Some shirts are too big for us, some are too small…
Some are too colorful, some are too drab…
Some are long sleeved, some are short…
Some have buttons, some don’t…
Some are thin, some are thick…
Some have pockets, some are pocketless…
Some have collars, some don’t…
Some are worn for style, some are worn for warmth..
You get the picture..
I feel as though this is how Religions are… They all point towards Truth… to figuring out ultimate Truth… Regardless if it is Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Paganism, Islam, Shamanism…etc..
Sometimes a person wears the wrong shirt and gets further from the Truth. Sometimes this person will realize this and condemn that shirt..and throw it away and talk bad of it. Sometimes someone else will walk by and pick that shirt up and it is perfect for them!… and the Truth reveals itself.
So, it is important to not judge another’s shirt but, however, it is very important to judge one’s own shirt! Are you wearing the best shirt for yourself? Sometimes changing shirts can be the best thing to do. Sometimes wearing no shirt is the best thing to do!
Does your shirt fit you well? Maybe you need to add some buttons, or take away a pocket that holds too much junk? Maybe you need to pretend to be in a clothes shop, and just try on some other shirts and see what they are like, without prejudging what Truth you may realzie…. Maybe it will be possible to see Truth in any shirt you wear, or don’t wear… As Truth is everywhere, in everything, and nothing is exempt.
Be a lamp unto yourself and see what shirt best fits you… life is too short to be ill-equipped… make sure you are properly dressed for this occasion called Life!!
The other night, after meditating in my living room, i looked up and my eyes caught the sight of a buddha statue I have on my fireplace mantle. I felt deep gratitude for his teachings, his love, his compassion for all beings, that I prostrated* before him, his image as a sign of my thanks, my love and my devotion. I realized it has been quite some time since I have prostrated last and I felt a sadness for this….as if I had been ungrateful to an old friend.
My cat took this action as some sort of bizarre unknown act and promptly started attacking my hands during each prostration! I simply let her do this, as it was not a real attack as her claws were retracted and her teeth didn’t dig into my flesh. It was if she was trying to figure out if I was having a seizure or something!
*Prostration is the placement of the body in a reverentially or submissively prone position as a gesture. Typically prostration is distinguished from the lesser acts of bowing or kneeling by involving a part of the body above the knee touching the ground, especially the hands. (from Wikipedia)