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#1265 - Friday, November 22, 2002 - Edited by Gloria
I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes when you die.
First off that one second isn't one second at all, it stretches on forever like an
ocean of time. For me, it was lying on my back at boy scout camp watching
falling stars, and yellow leaves from the maple trees that lined our street, or
my grandmother's hands and the way her skin seemed like paper, and the first
time I saw my cousin Tony's brand new firebird. And Janie. And Janie. And
Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed-off about what happened to me, but
it's hard to stay mad when there's so much Beauty in the world. Sometimes I
feel like I'm seeing it all at once and it's too much, and my heart fills up like a
balloon that's about to burst, and then I remember to relax and stop trying to
hold onto it, and then it flows through me like rain, and I can't feel anthing but
gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea
what I'm talking about, but don't worry, you will someday."
~Lester Burnam from "American Beauty"
From "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind"
-- Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi (Soto Zen Master)
there is no naturalness -- no true being. True being
comes out of nothingness, moment after moment. Nothingness is always there,
and from it everything appears. But usually, forgetting all about nothingness,
you behave as if you have something. What you do is based on some
possessive idea or some concrete idea, and that is not natural.
For instance, when you listen to a lecture, you should not have any idea of
yourself. You should not have your own idea when you listen to someone.
Forget what you have in your mind and just listen to what he says. To have
nothing in your mind is naturalness. Then you will understand what he says.
But if you have some idea to compare with what he says, you will not hear
everything; your understanding will be one-sided; that is not naturalness.
When you do something, you should be completely involved in it. You should
devote yourself to it completely. Then you have nothing. So if there is no true
emptiness in your activity, it is not natural.
Most people insist on some idea. Recently the younger generation talks about
love. Love! Love! Love! Their minds are full of love! And when they study
Zen, if what I say does not accord with the idea they have of love, they will
not accept it. They are quite stubborn, you know. You may be amazed! Of
course not all, but some have a very, very hard attitude. That is not naturalness
at all. Even though they talk about love, and freedom or naturalness, they do
not understand these things. And they cannot understand what Zen is in that
If you want to study Zen, you should forget all your previous ideas and just
practice zazen and see what kind of experience you have in your practice.
That is naturalness.
Whatever you do, this attitude is necessary. Sometimes we say nyu nan shin,
"soft or flexible mind." Nyu is "soft feeling"; nan is "something which is not
hard"; shin is "mind." Nyu nan shin means a smooth, natural mind. When you
have that mind, you have the joy of life. When you lose it, you lose
everything. You have nothing. Although you think you have something, you
have nothing. But when all you do comes out of nothingness, then you have
everything. Do you understand? This is what we mean by naturalness.
Being good at debate and public speaking unfortunately doesn't prove much. You can
convince an audience that you are right and the other person is wrong and (i) be
wrong, and (ii) not be a helpful or skillful or loving teacher, (iii) be an egomaniacal
asshole. It takes not only keen insight and quick wits to be good at debate, but also a
strong and focused psychic energy. A "killer instinct" as they say in law and business
also helps "defeat" opponents. And if the audience is initially on your side (as in
satsang), it also helps.
In the case of Jean Klein or other satsang teachers, it's like preaching to the choir. Plus,
it is said to the attendees "Leave your mind and shoes at the door!" The satsang
audience is usually made up of devotees, who are usually projecting attributions of
perfection and ascendency onto the teacher in the first place. So the teacher can say
about anything, and they'll swoon with moon eyes, "Yes, those words are coming
straight from Consciousness!" Jean Klein was one of the best teachers, but it wasn't
from his verbal messages. He wasn't half the rhetorician or dialectician his teacher
Atmananda was, yet he was a kind, loving, open and gentle man, and taught in this
way much more effectively. I never met Jean (have you?) but have read all his books
(Atmananda's too) and talked to many of his former students. It's funny, some of them
can hardly remember any dialogues or verbal interchanges at all. What they are left
with is a kind, open, accepting presence.... Several of them have told me that this
openness is what they consider to be his great gift...
Shankara and the Dalai Lama trained long and hard in ahimsa and lovingkindness.
They cultivated ethical, religious and spiritual and character virtues. All the debating
skill in the world, without these qualities, makes one at best a shrewd barrister or a
brainy drill sergeant, not a great spiritual leader.
(Coming to you from both the U.S. Army Officer Corps and the world of professional
academic philosophy, so I saw these excesses up close and personal!)
The moment of awakening may be marked
by an outburst of laughter,
but this is not the laughter of someone
who has won the lottery or some kind of victory.
It is the laughter of one who,
after searching for something for a long time,
suddenly finds it in the pocket of his coat.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Watching the big kids play yearn to be like their older peers.
So they imitate and copy
Until one day they are out playing with the big kids.
I believe that spiritually the same principle remains:
Once Greatness is witnessed,
Those all who see it will want to achieve it-- eventually.
This is my Big Kid Theory...
We know the world through the mind. Sri Ramana used to
say that mind is a wonderful power that arises from
the Self and makes all this visible.
The conscious mind is one manifestation of Kundalini
Shakti. Ultimately, Mind, Kundalini, Shakti, Maya, all
these mean the same thing.
Jnana makes us aware that the rising of (Mind, Maya,
Shakti)has a Source which is complete in It Self, the
It is because of the presence of Sat-Chit-Ananda at
the core of our being, the whole world is starving for
love, love or Ananda (joy or bliss) being the root
nature. In one way or another, we seek this Ananda,
either through material means or spiritual means which
are also in a way not different than material means.
I remember being at retreat about 23 years ago and
talking to this woman in her 60s. She was divorced and
actively looking for a man.
I advised her to forget about finding love and all
that nonsense and focus on meditation and
Self-Realization and be free. I remember the pained
look on her face and she said, "But I really need to
have a man in my life."
I was such a fool then.
Love to all
One can see the masks of others only through one's own
mask. That is the sheer beauty of it.
When one transcends one's own mask, others masks
disappear as well.
In the embrace of God, the true beloved, only God
remains as Love ItSelf.
Love to all
God acts within every moment
and creates the world with each breath.
He speaks from the center of the universe,
in the silence beyond all thought.
Mightier than the crash of a thunderstorm,
mightier than the roar of the sea,
is Gods voice silently speaking
in the depths of the listening heart.
( translation by Stephen Mitchell)
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