Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hidden in Plain Sight

The true nature of reality is that nothing remains the same. Everything changes. We see this everywhere. People come into our lives and then they go. Jobs come and go. Our interests wax and wane.

We search earnestly for the truth in science, religion, politics, Hollywood, and literature, every aspect of our lives, and yet we don't see the truth right in front of our eyes. We even do this right now--the only time and place that we can truly see. We consider the here and now but we are caught up in our thinking, rational minds. How can we see the truth while we are paying attention to our thoughts, the home of our fears, neighbors of our anxiety, our desire, our paranoia? That's not where truth lives. That's the realm of the shared delusions that we pretend is reality.

We have individual delusions too. We have our personal story line about who we are and what we do and why we matter. Most importantly, we adopt prescribed roles that tell us what to accept and not accept. Doesn't matter of course. What we accept or don't has nothing to do with what actually happens, except that we feel obligated to approve and reward what we like and become stressed, frustrated, aggravated and depressed over what we don't. We get so absorbed into what we think, that we become virtual prisoners to it.

When we look carefully at what we actually experience, we will realize that it's not a world in constant flux, it's rather the constant change that we experience. There is nothing to experience if there is no change. Reduce every quantum probability to zero and, presto, nothing to experience.

If our hope lies in finding happiness in the realm where everything is constantly changing, then we are running on empty promises and we are essentially hopeless. The only source of hope and of happiness is in this eternal moment, where we are free of impermanence, for it is in the moment that we have our only existence. The only way to get there is to get passed our conditioned mind, beyond our desire and our fear, away from the realm of thought and into a place of open awareness. I know of no other way to do that than through meditation.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Be Your True Self

A group of goats came upon an orphaned tiger cub and they decided to care for the little tiger like one of their own. The little one began to think that he must be a goat. He learned to bleat and to eat grass and eventually became a very poor specimen of a tiger.

One day a large male tiger attacked the flock and all the goats scattered except for the little tiger that was too weak and scrawny to get away. The big tiger stared at him amazed.

"Are you living here with these goats," asked the adult. "Maaaaaaa" said the little tiger. The adult tiger pondered the situation for a few moments and then brought the little fellow to a still pond.

“Look into the water with me,” said the big tiger and the little one did so and saw his face for the very first time. "You see,” said the larger tiger, “you look just like me. You’re a tiger, not a goat. You’re a tiger like me. Be like me.”

Now, that's the stuff of transformation: ‘Be like me.’ My first Zen master told me that I could learn to live a life of joy. I told him that I doubted this because no matter how hard I tried, I never seemed to be happy. He then asked if I thought that he lived a joyful life. I confessed that I did think so. “All you need to do is believe that it works for me and then do what I do,” he said. In other words—‘be like me.’

That big tiger took the little one back to his den and began to feed him meat for the first time. The little one protested, “But I eat grass”. “Nonsense,” said the adult, “eat this, it’s good for you.” The little tiger gagged at first.

Traditions all around the world agree that when we are first fed the truth, we find it hard to accept. Just like the little tiger, and just like me, we gag because we’ve been conditioned to swallow something else, even though it isn’t good for us.

Eventually, after a diet of his true food, the little tiger grew into what nature had intended. He was happier and was able to live his life fully, just as he was meant to live.

Practicing meditation is the path that leads to the reflecting pool. The still water in which we see our true reflection is the stillness of our deep consciousness. The act of living mindfully, fully aware of our true nature, is the food that best nourishes us.

Most of us are tigers, living our lives as goats. It is social conditioning that teaches us to become something less than we are meant to be. We try to live as we’ve been told but, deep down inside, we all know that something is wrong.

Look into your own inner stillness and see the reflection of your true face. Don’t continue to live a life that you weren’t meant for. You’re just like me. Be like me.