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, were essentially beginners in the study of these Teachings, I imagine 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 some of us may not even consider ourselves Buddhists with a capital B, assertions about Emptiness, Impermanence, Non-Self, Co-dependent Origination, Interdependence and Oneness, were offered and explored, dissected and re-assembled.
In about forty minutes 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 at all! Even when there was apparent "disagreement" with a presentation or 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.
Gaining a "solid grasp of reality" is often considered to be 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." With Practice we come to see for ourselves what The Teachings indicate. Examined closely we see clearly that there is a profoundly insubstantial and transitory character to all experience -- and that 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? Instead: Observed clearly we see that Life is not so solid, it emerges as a vivid flow of energy within the embrace of a boundless spaciousness. That being the case, we see for ourselves that grasping at anything doesn't really work.
At that point we may even feel free enough to relax, lighten up, and really live the dream.
How cool is that?
(* "Imagine" is actually one of my favorite songs. )