Mind is the biggest obstacle, and the greatest joy.
Mind is the worst horror and the highest nirvana.
Was thinking this morning about how hard it is to explain the simplest things. Even thinking to try to explain is distracting. All these words get in the way and make things confusing. Sometimes it is all too easy to be caught up in ordinary thoughts. Today: this. Tomorrow: that. But ordinary thoughts, when tied to things or other beings, and tied to time, seem to do nothing for making us happy in the moment and they aren’t even delayed gratification. They just make appearances seem either imperfect or desirable and they lead to more aversion and attachment.
Most thoughts obscure reality, especially those thoughts that are more verbal than visual. For example, I could be thinking of the work I need to do and what has to be done next while walking the dogs and not even hear the sound of the surf or see the joy in the dog’s movements. Me: bundled up and wrapped away,insulated by thoughts, eyes and ears closed. Dog: barefoot, naked, free and joyfully thought-free, eyes and ears open.
It’s conditioning. As children, we’re much like the dogs, free and joyful. Later on we are conditioned to plan, to purchase, to own, and to avoid losing. This conditioned mindset directly affects our ability to love in a big way. It interferes with mindfulness and true awareness.
Granted, it is a little different here in the woods. With large predators around, it is important to be aware. This is how it used to be for everyone. People were not distracted by their environment, we did not spend our lives fighting the circumstances or environment; we were part of it and did what we could to work with it because working against it is asking for problems. We sought to understand it.
When I was a young girl, growing up in Halibut Cove, Alaska, we would travel by boat to Homer to do our shopping. I remember how beautiful the lights of Homer were reflected on the water. Those lights were distracting in a beautiful way to my child mind. In this modern industrialized world, when we are immersed in it, is very distracting with changing, flashing lights from traffic signals to TV indicating how we are expected to move or pattern our own activities and lives, yet depending on our day to day thoughts, these can be very alienating and distracting in a postmodern way, no longer nurturing indicators or reminders, that “we’re all in this together.”
The first flashing, colorful lights known to humanity, the sun, moon and stars are much more effective and distract us from trouble in a much more nurturing way, and remove stress, rather than create stress. They are not distractions but reminders of happiness or love or joy, and they do not seek out differences and categorize. They distract us from everyday thoughts in a nice way and remind us of our child minds and sheer joy of just seeing something beautiful and colorful.
There is a parable about a man who had several silos of grain and lots of riches, and had worked very hard all of his life so he could be comfortable. He went to bed thinking, “now I will be happy. I have worked very hard and attained these things, and these things will now provide for me and I don’t have to work anymore.” That night he died.
Time shows that the world is an ephemeral illusion. If we don’t see this, time makes the world completely illusory by showing us impermanence, and, “this too shall pass,” and leaves us with nothing substantial when we depart. We leave with what we came into the world with: nothing except our awareness. People try so hard to make the illusion real, clinging to this or that, seeking to attain this or that, yet doing so makes us ultimately more unhappy… if we missed the point along the way, forgot to be happy, and spent too much of our time caught up in ordinary thoughts.
Thoughts lay down the pattern for life. They are the first steps to making everything happen.
Installing the floor downstairs now. I have thought of this floor since I built the cabin. Have planned to put it in for almost a year, waiting for the wood in town to be shipped here, but there were so many other priorities, and flights are very expensive. So, now, looking at this half-done beautiful floor that now matches the upstairs, I am reminded of when I was in college and first visualized this floor. Every thought really is a step along life’s path, and control over our own thoughts is one key to everlasting joy.
Happiness is not about having anything like a nice new floor, but it makes clear that the small intention many years ago has brought about a whole new patterned field… one that seemed more ideal, and really does make it feel more like home, yet now that it is almost finished, it is much easier to let go of ideas of living here in the future or even living here in the past or living here now. After two years of mopping up paint chips, sand and ground in dirt, it will be nice to just mop up sand and dirt for a while. It should cut down on dust too… so I am reminded about the rich man and his grain and about letting go of the results and enjoying the act.
Everything we think will make us happy is a lie. Being happy makes us happy. That’s it. We can be happy in any circumstance when we do not cling, or grasp, or “own.”
Love is absolutely beyond form. Mind is beyond form. If we imagine it all like a mandala, with everything, all of reality, every time, all minds in one place, rolled up like a scroll, mind is always the center, and contains the entire mandala, yet it all is illusory. There is no real time, just patterned fields within fields.
When any mandalas or visual perceptions arise, and we ask ourselves, “what is this?” This is when it is good to ask, “who is asking?” or tell ourselves, “who is asking.” If thoughts start to arise, just keep pushing love through. Love removes all thought.
The marvelous experience of the dense array makes everything clear. The dense array is a direct experience of non-motion which neatly contains all, and is a strong reminder of impermanence, that can’t be replicated, rationalized or comprehended with the conceptual mind, yet it shows all things, all forms, all languages, all spectrums, every appearance densely patterned, one within another, not one thing or one moment left out. It also makes it very clear that appearances are not objects. Thoughts no longer arise here, and there is no looking because there is no one to look, yet all is “seen” as what has always been here. The idea of a separate experience is the biggest obscuration, it’s the biggest lie we tell ourselves that hurts us the most profoundly and makes us feel the most alone and vulnerable.
Sometimes it’s good to feel alone and vulnerable. We can learn a lot from our vulnerability.
For Buddhists, the physical reality mandala is depicted as Mara’s belly. The little “food” bodies suffer and suffer, caught in circular small thoughts as they are digested by Mara. Mara is the “enemy” of the food body because Mara is digesting it, and it certainly doesn’t feel good all of the time to be digested. Since we are conditioned not to lose, we become concerned when we see how “digested” our food bodies get as we age.
There is a world that Jesus said that his peace was not of (John 13): that is the world of the seen, the world of the everyday thought, the world of the food body… and it is just not a world of peace. It’s a world of everything, of seeming chaos and injustice. Yet peace is here too… in another ephemeral, transitory form that lives and dies. Yet, we know, regardless of spiritual beliefs, suffering is just for a time.
Peace is a continuum and it exists because love exists. Love creates and destroys all things. Nothing is separate from love.
When we suffer, it’s very easy to subjectively categorize good and evil. What harms the food body or brings suffering is evil, and what makes the food body happy is seen as good.
Yet preserving the body adds no meaning to life. Attaining things does not bring happiness. Events come and go. The best we can do sometimes is take care of our body and our mind in the best way we can and just be happy.
Love removes brassiness and complexity and simplifies everything into a very innocent, peaceful, transcendent experience. Love brings that flavor, “you are the salt of the earth,” that takes every last visible thing and moment and embraces these with compassion and joy. Knowing we are this clear and clean salt, that which pervades the sea and really is that which passes through unscathed, and merely seasons the food for a time, really is a powerful lesson.
The heaven that Jesus speaks of is spread out all over the earth, not somewhere in the sky, yet the best way to depict it, and this is done in all religions, is a gentle skyward journey upon a golden cord, a cutting of the fetters, a removal of the true love-self from the perception that we are made of food or clay or something that dies, and caught in cyclic thoughts and events.
A cutting of the fetters of all worldliness is love’s job, and when we can cut the fetters to the idea of love and objects of love, perceived separate forms do fade into perfect patterned fields which really are spread out all over the earth and beyond. Every momentary, joyful, compassionate experience, we change the world in a wonderful way and make it possible for more and more beings to experience ultimate truth directly, beyond words, grasping, and thoughts.
So yes, you are the salt of the earth, and yes, you can know yourself and change the world in a wonderful way just by nurturing and speaking to and with the love in the heart (of all apparent beings), and just a little love goes way beyond words.