in order for the truth to have a chance to penetrate, to reveal itself.”
― Thich Nhat Hạnh
"The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
The named is the mother of myriad things"
― Tao Te Ching
It's not surprising that some students even got smacked by crotchety old Zen masters for their "loose lips."
Words can be pretty damn tricky.
A case in point: The realm of words creates a situation where the word "swearing" could either describe what emerges when a person angrily launches into a foul-mouthed condemnation of something or it's opposite. Swearing is also what happens when a person wholeheartedly takes a sacred oath.
So what does the word "swear" actually mean? (For that matter what does "mean," mean? I mused that Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call: What's Love Got To Do with It?)
Over the years, it's become clearer and clearer to me that any particular word, or even a whole string of those slippery devils, at best, can only hint at the Truth. Most often, they just lead to a more complicated web of endless definition.
I've found that, like Life itself, meaning is inseparable from context. It emerges from an essential connection to a whole matrix of experiences which, in turn, are ultimately inseparable from the Whole Universe.
This makes real communication extremely interesting. It involves myriad factors beyond the actual exchange of words. In fact, if you are really paying attention during a conversation, what is not said may be more meaningful than what is said. The devil isn't merely in the details. The devil is the details -- when those slippery devils operate to take us further and further away from the Truth. Truth, I have found, is ultimately a matter of Heart, not the thinking mind.
Yet, staying connected to our hearts is not easy. It takes Practice. And Practice takes courage, effort -- and Commitment.
Oh no, not that!
course, the meaning of the word commitment, just like "swearing," also runs
gamut. On the one hand, "commitment" can refer to someone's fundamental decision to put in the time and effort to actualize what is valued. On the other hand, "commitment" refers to what
happens when the guys in the white coats come to haul you off to the
WTF? I swear!?
The Gateless Gate of Zen
Many Zen stories and koans hinge on the presentation of conceptual paradoxes.
With a commitment to Practice we may come to see for ourselves the fundamental unity that underlies the existence of such apparent opposites. Although words and concepts can be useful tools as we reflect on our own experience and as we communicate with others, there are whole realms of feelings, intuitions, and energies that provide a context and meaning to our experience of Life that can't be really be captured with concepts.
As we spend hours Sitting Still and carefully observing our own experience moment to moment, as we move through our days and dialogue mindfully with others, we gain access to what has usually operated beneath and beyond our own conditioned mode of experience. What was subconscious increasingly becomes conscious.
This is a game changer.
Although a profound insight into the nature of reality may happen in the blink of an eye, it doesn't necessarily happen overnight. It takes time and effort. It takes commitment.
Of course, the word commitment, itself, seems like a swear word to a lot of people. The thoughts and emotions that are evoked can make us shudder -- and run for cover. I have a friend who bought Pema Chodron's The Places That Scare You, then was afraid to read it for a couple of years.
Yet, examining the mind states that emerge as you contemplate "commitment" can be a valuable way to explore the edges of your own ego. Exploring those fears, opening to feel them in your body rather than turning away from them, you come to understand the nature of fear. This increasingly makes you fearless.
With Practice, you get out of your head and into your heart. Over time, you come to see for yourself the fundamentally insubstantial nature of ego.
Letting go of the conceptual narrative
entirely and diving into feelings and energies of your own experience of the present moment, the Real Deal emerges. You come to know that "you" aren't merely living your life. Life is living you! You know with your whole being what Eckhart Tolle once proclaimed:"Life is the Dancer. You are the Dance!"
But, don't take my word for it. See for yourself.
It just take Practice.