This Month's Contents: Something for Nothing by Bob Fergeson | The Everlasting Mercy by John Masefield | All You Need to Do by Art Ticknor | Words of Wisdom | Video: Beyond Mind, Beyond Death | Humor |
If we are what we do, as Richard Rose states in the epigraph to Bob Fergeson's essay, then this time of year I am most likely a lawn mower or landscaper. Warm days, plentiful rains, and long hours of sun bring a bounty of grass and weeds to that American tradition called the lawn. Yes, I am house-bound, lawn-indentured by my dreams come to unforeseen fruition. Every now and then, I manage to lift my head from labor and wonder "what the hell am I doing, and why?"
Then I remember... that the ground under my knees is a planet orbiting a tiny sun among a galactic billion, and the green of one blade of grass is as good as any end to this life that I could ever devise. None of it matters one whit, and I don't care, yet I'll come inside when the light begins to fail and try, try to find the perfect set of words to say—this matters. I hope you enjoy this month's offering of reading, thinking, and watching.
"We are what we do, not what we think we do."
"The fact that you don't act means you don't have conviction." —Richard Rose
I've found as I get older that some of the seekers I meet are getting long in the tooth too, and suffer from a lack of conviction (inability to act) brought on by a combination of age and success in life. They have time and money relative to their youth, but are reluctant to use them towards their spiritual path. Perhaps this is not done consciously, but could be that a life-time of work and struggle, not only in the outer world but also in the realm of personality, vanity and ego along with the effects of aging, have left them almost unable to act any other way. The strange thing about them is their 'conviction' of commitment to the spiritual path, and the simultaneous lack of ability to act in that direction.
The following is a list of characteristics peculiar to this type of fellow and some questions for him in the hope he will see, and resolve, his paradox:
This is an excerpt from Masefield's poem which Douglas Harding favored
There's always crowds when drinks are standing.
"Saul Kane," she said, "when next you drink,
The wet was pelting on the pane
I heard her clang the Lion door,
I did not think, I did not strive,
O glory of the lighted mind.
O glory of the lighted soul.
"It's dawn," I said, "And chimney's smoking,
Read the complete poem at Poemhunter.com
Guru: All you need to do is let go.
Chela: What do you mean? Let go of what?
G: Your faulty beliefs about what you are.
C: How do I do that? I don't know how.
G: Everyone knows how to let go. What prevents it is pride or fear. It's
generally easier to see the fear side of the argument. What are you afraid to
let go of? What is the threat?
C: Well, I'm afraid to let go of control. The fear, I guess, is that things will spin out of control … my life will become chaotic, maybe I'll even go crazy.
G: And what are the implications of that?
C: Well, if I go crazy I won't be able to function normally, people will shun me or lock me away somewhere. I won't be able to live a productive life, to get what I want from life. I'll die miserable and unfulfilled. Even if I stay sane but things spin out of control, I won't be able to pursue what I want and may not be able to stay alive.
G: If you let go your hopes will die … or you will die….
C: Yes, that's what it comes down to.
G: You're stuck, then, aren't you … postponing the inevitable.
C: That's how it feels. Isn't there any way out?
G: That brings us back to the solution, which is quite simple: just let go.
C: If I know how to do that, as you say, what prevents it?
G: You're turning away from the fear rather than facing it.
C: How do I do that?
G: By introspecting the mind … learning to watch the mind without getting
caught up in its activity. Specifically what you'll be looking for is to observe
what you actually control of the mind's operation. You tell yourself that you're
in control, afraid to let go of control. Look, and see what of the mind's
operation you actually run.
C: That's it?
Words of Wisdom
Some of you will remember that in that very basic Mahayana Buddhist scripture, the Diamond Sutra, it says that if you can look into your emptiness and not be somewhat scared, congratulations! Because it is a very uncommon thing. We have a great fear of looking this way because it is a kind of death. If you are scared of it I congratulate you because it means you have got it. I say, go on with it and you will come out at the other end. Beyond the fear is the experience of death, what I call the Present Death Experience. And then Bang! the resurrection. So you die as one tiny little lump of stuff and you explode to become the lot, you are resurrected to become the lot. So if you feel a little bit scared I would say that is absolutely great. Stay with it and it will come right.
~ Douglas Harding - 1991 Sydney workshop
It's true I had a lot of anxiety. I was afraid of the dark and suspicious of the light.
Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once.
~ Woody Allen