Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Not Resting

How tempting it is for the mind to grasp onto what is directly perceived, and to ossify it into necessarily rigid and falsifying concepts. The raft of skilful use of conceptual understanding is a tricky one to ride, and one which seems to hold much potential for misuse. The Buddha described the Dharma as being like a raft to the other shore, and said to this effect - "would a man who has crossed to the other shore, then take up the raft, place it upon his head, and proceed to walk around with it?"

The methods are a means to an end, and not to be grasped onto as an end in themselves. Descriptions of how things are, necessarily words, conceptual in nature, are just skilful means, designed to point us in a particular direction, and are not the thing itself. How easy to grasp onto both as the point itself, rather than something just to skilfully utilise. It seems when looking around that it is so easy for followers of the various religious paths to lose sight of the point, and grasp onto the means as literal and ultimate.

The concepts which make sense of our experience once outside of meditation are beguiling in their simplicity, and seeming definitiveness. However things are, however we see things, there seems to be a tendency to hold onto that level of seeing, and to automatically turn it into a conceptual view. Emptiness is like this ... appearances are like this ..... mind is like this ..... but how is it all?

The conceptual understanding sits easily in the mind, a neat clear nugget, which simplifies to the point of utter falsification. Life seems to be utterly mysterious at root, and defies all description. By that I mean that what is/isn't seems endlessly ungraspable ... always slipping away as the mind struggles to word it. It seems endlessly elusive, as awareness seems to see and know. It seems endlessly wondrous, as we open truly and let go.

So full is this experience, so blissful the openess, and yet, how easy to rest on our concepts and names.

How readily concepts seek to intrude in meditation itself, naming and judging .... a chance to exchange the richness of moon itself with the poor relation of the finger pointing. Letting go of naming, letting go of the concepts which try to overlay and overlap direct perception. Our habit is to name, to understand, to contain and explain.

Yet names have usefulness, as do our notions and concepts.

Without names, could we find our way? .... I don't know .... I've never given up the conceptual habit outside of meditation. I can't imagine why the Realised Ones would have spent so much time spinning skilful concepts unless there was definite utility in them. Holding up the golden flower, Shakyamuni spoke the unspeakable .... and we cannot but help smiling in return. But how to share this wondrous glimpse?

And how to lightly hold concepts, this precious means of pointing to that which cannot be pointed to, and yet one so intoxicating in their potential duplicity.

Never resting with what is seen. Never resting with conceptual crutches. Never resting with our limited love. Never resting with beings still suffering.

Never resting with the job part done.

And yet, perfect as things already are, we let go, completely and utterly.

The concepts are not the thing itself. And yet, they reveal all that is and can be.

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