23 January 2012

Reports of My Importance are Greatly Exaggerated

Once again I find myself chewing on this past weekend's teisho.  This is a good thing, I think.  (Better for it to have some take-away value instead of just being a 40-60 minute excuse to "focus on the practice," that's for sure!)

The point was made that the end of defilements was as simple and as straightforward and as quick as the burning of kleśa papers made of flash paper.  Poof!  Gone!

Of course, this sounds too good to be true, but really, it's not.  Between thought arising and defilement latching on, there is a wide open opportunity to just let the thought go without clinging or aversion.  And just as it came out of nowhere, to nowhere it goes.  Just like that.  No sleight of hand required.  No great labor or exertion.  As we've heard time and again, "All's self-revealing, void, and clear without exerting power of mind."

So what am I chewing on?  

It's at that very moment when the thought arises and the defilement threatens to latch on that the watershed is found: latch on = affirm the (idea I have of my)self, let go = release the (idea I have of my)self.  The self disappears as fast as the flash paper, too, if only I let it.

I know the party line is that this is good news (and it is), but I have to admit, I also experience it as something of a punch to the gut.  This (idea of) self I get so enamored of has no lasting value, no abiding reality, no legacy or trace or remainder or influence or accomplishment or attainment or mastery or skill or – anything.  Without it, I am nobody, and, damn, if that realization doesn't smart a little!

But I'm grateful for the smarting, because it tells me where I still need to let go.  It tells me there's more to drop, more to let pass by, more to not run from, and more not to grab hold of.

There's another word for that smarting, the ancient word, perhaps one of the noblest words ever to cross human lips: dukkha

And that's why I'm still chewing on this past weekend's teisho – because I have yet to come to the end of dukkha.

No comments:

Post a Comment