"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about getting out of your head enough to engage each moment wholeheartedly. When we are Present in an open, kind, clear, and helpful way, the vast, mysterious, magical reality of life itself becomes self-evident .

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Solid Grasp of Reality

“In reality there are no separate events. Life moves along like water,
it's all connected to the source of the river is connected to the mouth and the ocean.”
-- Alan Watts, The Essential Alan Watts

It’s not impermanence per se, or even knowing we’re going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it’s our resistance 
to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation.
All I could do was grin.  At a Mindfulness Circle this week, eight of us had gathered  to meditate and explore the second slogan of the Lojong Trainings: "Regard All Dharmas As Dreams".

Although all assembled, myself included, are 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 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,  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 at all!  It was an absolute hoot -- relatively speaking.  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 made my heart glow.

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 examined closely we see clearly that there is a profoundly insubstantial and transitory character to our own 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 constant flow.  That being the case, grasping at anything doesn't really work. 

What then?

As Practice develops and our ability to see and accept this matures,  an awareness of something else also emerges.  As we merrily row our boats gently down the stream sensing that  "life is but a dream",  as we increasingly relax into the fullness of each moment, we may just notice that the vast blue sky stretching overhead is clearly reflected in that stream as well.  So is everything else -- ourselves included.

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. )

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