After awhile, I got up again, set the timer, walked over to the altar in the corner of my bedroom, lit a stick of incense and Sat down in front of a different blank screen. I meditated.
Now, an hour later, I'm ready -- I think.
A Tea Party: Zen Style
Although I first read that story in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones back in 1970, I now realize I had only glimpsed the rim of that empty cup. Even as a 24 year old, fresh out of college and engaged in my first year of teaching school, I certainly "got" that there is a difference between the accumulation of knowledge and actual wisdom. By then, I'd run into factory workers during my seven years of summer employment that appeared to have a better handle on the Real Deal than my college professors. I also sensed from the story that arrogance probably wasn't going to cut it with a Zen master. (I've personally had the opportunity to have that verified a number of times over the years. Sigh.)
Little did I know, though, that this teaching, like the coffee down at Dolly's Diner, was being served in a bottomless cup.
Be Like Little Children
This week, I had the opportunity to again explore the 6th slogan of the Lojong Teachings: "In post-meditation, be a child of illusion." (I also had hours of playtime with Betsy's five year old twin grandchildren). One of the most haunting of the 59 aphorisms that make up this Tibetan Buddhist system of mind training, it is also, perhaps, one of the most radical. It seemingly flies in the face of conventional "wisdom". Rather than exhorting us to "grow up and get real", we are encouraged, instead, to recapture the open and spacious sense of wonder that characterizes the mind of the child as we arise from our meditation cushion to move through the day to day activity of our lives. Imagine!
As Mindfulness Practice develops and we become more acutely aware of the fluidity and transparent nature of our own thoughts and emotions, the ephemeral nature of "mind stuff"
becomes more obvious. With Practice, our perspective widens and deepens, and in that gracious spaciousness of deepened Awareness, something shifts.
At a certain point, we see for ourselves that "reality" is not all that solid, and that the boundary between imagination and perception is not as hard and fast as we were led to believe. In fact, much of what we experience is actually an inverted form of "make believe". What we believe tends to make it so. Conditioned as our minds are by conventional society, what we "know" is not only limited by the organic limitations of our sensory apparatus, it is largely a function of the stories that we have accumulated, consciously and unconsciously, throughout the course of our lives.
With Practice, we come to see that these stories are no more substantial than fairy tales, maybe even less so. At a certain point, we come to know for ourselves that what we see and react to are usually our own interpretations of reality -- not Reality itself. We come to know that who we are and what we see "out there" are so much more than we had thought. As we touch the Ineffable directly, a deep sense of wonder --and humility --opens. We begin to "not know" more comfortably and approach our moment to moment experience with deep curiosity.
With our hearts and minds open and clear, we can then be be more imaginative with the fabric of our Life. Realizing that we are all co-creating the reality we share, we can choose to weave a much more interesting tapestry, one that resonates with the One Love at the Heart of Being. On and off the zafu, we can each take time to "imagine all the people living lives of peace" -- and do our own small part to bring it about.
How cool is that?
It just takes Practice.
(* The visualization practices of Tibetan Buddhism and other spiritual traditions, like prayer, are are actually mechanisms that harness the power of imagination to prime the pump of reality in the desired direction, one that resonates with Primordial Wisdom. )
Originally Posted August, 2014. Revised