it's all connected to the source of the river is connected to the mouth and the ocean.”
-- Alan Watts, The Essential Alan Watts
to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation."
Although all assembled, myself included, are essentially beginners in the study of these Teachings, I imagine that the energetic, sincere, often profound, sometimes amusing, discussion that emerged could have been a conversation among senior monks somewhere. Although a couple of folks, perhaps quite aware of the limitations, perhaps even the inadvisability, of placing our collective attention on words and discursive thought didn't participate, the rest of us jumped right in.
As I understood it, what materialized was no more, no less than a conversation about the true nature of reality and our individual ability to actually experience the truth of our existence. Although none of us is really a Buddhist scholar and many of us may not even consider ourselves Buddhists, assertions about Emptiness, Impermanence, Non-Self, Co-dependent Origination, Interdependence and Oneness, were offered and explored, then dissected and re-assembled. In about half an hour we covered a lot of ground exploring the "groundlessness" of existence.
I loved it.
At several points the fundamentals of Zen were touched on as phrases were turned, then turned on their heads without altering the meaning! Even when there was apparent "disagreement" with a presentation or the mode of presentation, it still felt like we were all basically on the same page. There was an underlying fabric of good will and good heart all the while.
It was an absolute hoot -- relatively speaking.
It made my heart glow.
Oh, Get Real!
Gaining a "solid grasp of reality" is considered one of the important aspects of growing up in
contemporary society. The message is pretty pervasive. We are encouraged to get real, to be "realistic" as we establish ourselves in the world. John Lennon's imaginings notwithstanding, being called a "dreamer" usually isn't a cause for pride. *
Yet, central to skillful means of Mahayana Buddhism is the notion that Life itself is "like a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream." The Teachings indicate that when our own experience is examined closely, we see clearly that there is a profoundly insubstantial and transitory character to everything. Our attempts to resist that, to grasp onto anything to create a sense of security, are actually the primary cause of our personal suffering.
A solid grasp of reality? In actuality, neither solidity nor grasping are attuned to the nature of Reality. Observed clearly we see that Life is not solid, it exists as a constant flow. That being the case, grasping at anything will inevitably cause rope burns. It doesn't really work.
At that point we may even feel free enough to really "live the dream."
How cool is that?
(* "Imagine" is actually one of my favorite songs. )
Originally Posted, May 9, 2014. Revised.