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“There is no single entity that is sustained in space independently. If the tree were really there, it would not take seeds, sun, water, leaves, and bark to make a tree.”
~ Sakyong Mipham on interdependence, November, 2009
Our persistent insistence that we are separate and “other than” defines us.
In yoga class, when I’m thinking how awesome that ex-dancer next to me looks, and how many years it will be, if ever, before I get my leg to go that high, I’m in conceptual thinking. Those rare moments when I’m feeling my back lengthen as I inhale, paying attention to the spine growing longer, the body stretching and gradually lengthening, that leg getting higher, the resistance, the letting go—I’m briefly visiting a place of non-conceptuality. What’s happening is, for a moment, what’s happening.
Neither is wrong. We need conceptuality to even approach the dharma.
Realizing precious human birth, the rarity of our time here, the value of being alive, is the balls. Tons of people roll around the planet unaware that this life is a huge massive enormous gift to be treasured, and fair enough—but what a gift! To know this world for the improbability vortex that it is. The odds against us being here! To spend time cultivating wonder, appreciation and abiding gratitude. These are the foundations of humility.
Not that I would know them, he hastened to add.
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Finding the most beneficial way to view our time on earth conceptually might be the most important work we have in front of us. The context in which you hold your life matters more than the scorecards: relationships, money, career, travel, pick one. Context is the whole enchilada, amigos. Everything bows to our concept of it. Really.
So why is it never “Jake, whatcha doing? I’m recalibrating the concepts I’m pretending are true.”?
Mystery, my friend, mystery.
Because concepts are the clothes in which we dress all of our experiences.
Some knucklehead driving way too close to me in traffic when I’m all vulnerable and on my bike and jesus, just trying to make it home with the groceries is life showing up in:
1. Ugly gray coveralls: A reckless idiot in desperate need of a clue. An insult to innocent bikers everywhere.
2. Jeans and a “Love” tee shirt: Food for gratitude: an ambassador maybe even in an invisible cape for all I know of showing me I am alive and unharmed: such an improbable and enviable state.
Both are entirely true and adaptable. Conceptuality rocks:
“I mean doesn’t it really astonish you that you are this fantastically complex thing?” ~ Alan Watts
Seductive, beautiful, and candy, for certain, but not the truth. And there is richness in enjoying it for what it is, but ditching the way we hold concepts as “real” serves us even better than Frenchie. Remember Frenchie? Anyway there is the breath, say. All else is ignorance. That’s a good thing.
Ditching the way you hold your truth, changing your concepts about conceptual thinking, is the balls. Letting go of the idea that you have any clue is a massive huge big not small step out of a box you no longer need. It is knowing always that you are wrong. And I’m utterly, completely wrong, 24/7 354. Ask any ex. How free is that? Stay with me.
Because take the case that we are more than we can ever fit into our thinking minds as definition.
In her turn, Concept bows to Non-conceptuality. Those moments when it is so okay that we don’t even know it’s okay.
Believing that what we think (about anything, much less our stardustborn selves) is the truth is a bigger pitfall than that “claw” game, where you keep trying to get the stuffed animal. And your niece is there, a little teary, because she thought surely Uncle Karl of all people would be more than magic enough to make this simple task happen. Beads of sweat are appearing because you’re not only out of change, but cash itself is gonna become an issue. If that’s the metaphor I want to use, I mean.
Anyway it’s a pitfall, disaster waiting to happen, but without the disaster. Because it’s all seriously good. I mean except for the bad parts, and the mediocre parts, it’s all good.
Take a look at this six minute jetway to liberation from exactly what I’m talking about here:
(Sorry about the music. Can we stage a rebellion against background music? Bacground music sucks.)
How beautiful and liberating is that?
Let me answer before you take the words right out of my mouth: plenty.
I love it: “…not who you are. It is merely a thought.” It is so right up the Alan Watts’ alley, which elephant has laid out for you here, here, and here.
Alan Watts is too much fun, really. Have you read The Book? If not, bam, you just made all your exploration on elephant, looking for a signal, an indication, a clue, worth it. Get this rascal. He tears monkey mind apart and holds it in an open palm, where mountain breezes blow it up into the sky. Really. I’ve seen it happen.
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This is straight up from Buddhism For Dummies: “ In particular, Buddhism teaches that your mind causes you suffering by attaching to permanence and constructing a separate self where in fact neither exists.”
If my teacher Lama Kathy is right, there is awareness, and there is luminosity. In awareness, perceiving the luminous, we posit a self.
True! And who is this being, who is saying “true?” The posited self itself.
“If you find out that it is you who are circulating your blood, you will discover that it is you who are shining the sun.”
That quote and the last one are in this lecture:
Explore the idea that:
“You are playing hide and seek. You are deliberately forgetting what you really are, and the knowledge that your essential self is the foundation of the universe. The ground of being.”
“Along the path, we discover that we have made many assumptions. The biggest assumption is that the self exists in the way we think.” ~ Sakyong Mipham on interdependence, November, 2009
So we are hiding from ourselves, like little god children come to earth for a timeout, but without the punishing part: a voluntary timeout. There are huge massive things we are up to: we are creating new galaxies; we are inventing life forms; we are co-creating universes just for the hell of it and laughing and looking at our godfriendselves and elbowing them in the ribs and going, “Look, look, a giraffe with living wheels for feet, it’s faster than any tiger, bitch!”
And we are happy. We are happier than that time you scored a basket against all odds and everyone jumped out of their seats to cheer and your mom and dad were both there and the teacher who thought you were Bozo Incarnate even had to admit, “Shit, nice shot!”
We are overflowing with complete love and massively huge creative power and everything, everything is so so perfect we just needed a little time out, a little pause, an interval from the greatness of it all so we put on a human skin and napped into this earthrealm and we are so, so glad to be drowsing here quietly for a sec. This place with all the barriers and hurdles and breakups and sadnesses and bosses who have no idea how good we are, and teachers who are just ill equipped to love right and parents with the same ailment, and cars cutting us off, and endless small physical problems to deal with, and this enormous capacity to unintentionally cause harm is so so perfect. The perfect resting place to come quiet down.
Brother Blue nailed it. “We are music wrapped in color.” But any attempt to define “music,” don’t even go there, you God, you.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel
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