Saturday, July 27, 2013

Your Search Among

Your search among books, sifting and shuffling through other people's words, may lead you to the depths of knowledge, but it cannot help you see the reflection of your true self. When you have thrown away all your conceptions of mind and body, the original person will appear, in its fullness.

- Dogen

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It is true, what Dogen says. I know this is true because I, I, have spent my life shuffling through other people's words. Look back through these 200 (200!) posts and you will see almost 200 epigraphs - my jumping off points. I listen to the words long written down, the songs sung in a hundred thousand hundred thousand voices and I believe I have found a thread, a through line, a sweetline, connecting them, or I connect them by the shuffling and sifting, and I see the faintest pattern emerge and I come here to tell you what I've seen. But you, my dear fartlet, my brother, my sister, all you get to see are more words for you to sift and shuffle through. They may lead you to further words, they may help along the way, the hard road down, but Dogen is right, all these words cannot reveal your true self to yourself. Only you can do that. It may be that your true self is a writer, a story teller, but the sorrow for all storytellers is this: we know we can only accompany you so far. It is up to you to complete the story.

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I tell you this upon your face: the story you tell is the life you live. Think for a minute before rushing past this one. Look around your life. Look at the lives that intersect with yours. Look. What do you see? You see lives ordered around sets of ideas about how to live, about what life is, about time, about love, about death. Read the labels we attach to ourselves: male, son, brother, father, divorced, writer, Irish, youngest in the family, right-handed, liberal, middle-aged. And the others that haunt our thoughts: broke, lost, afraid, searching... It is possible to tell every possible story by the combination of labels we reside in. And those labels become prophecy. But like sifting and shuffling through other people's words, these labels cannot help you become your original self, the god who is part of the universe and the universe complete. These labels coalesce into a story, congeal into habit, harden into molds and then you are gone. Gone and having missed the chance to experience the fullness of your life.

Snap out of it. Quit playing at the edge of things. Enter the stream. Nothing bad will happen. It cannot. Here's why: when thou art that, when you cast off expectation and labels, when you are done with dichotomies, you are as you are - free, full, alive - and you experience your life as miracle, electric, pulsing and you belong to the moment, the everpresent moment you have to live. Boom. Stay attached to the labels, stay connected to either/or, stay immersed in longing and you live as a label, live balancing won and lost columns, live as a hungry ghost - never satisfied and walking past the gifts available to you. You die either way. Only one brings life.

Knowing this, how can you still stand on the shore?

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But these are not truths that can be told. They cannot be written down like a set of instructions. Any set of instructions must be rejected. Even the most beautiful words are half-truths, approximations. No, this truth can only be experienced and only by you and only when you are ready to see it.  This is the heart of the mystery of consciousness: our ability to choose the reality we live in. Tell one story, live one kind of life. Change your story and your life changes along with it. Choose to live without preconceived ideas about your life, your story and then you get to experience it unfolding in real time, moment by moment: exhilarated, awe-struck, fluid, alive.

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