These days, we wonder how we can be like Sujata. We strive to make a difference in the world. We reduce our carbon footprints and participate proactively in the democratic process. We educate ourselves and serve others. Yet despite our best efforts, as a whole our societies still seem to be starving for compassion, thirsty for equanimity, and emaciated by the onslaught of digital disconnections. We wonder, what is the bowl of rice and milk that we can give our world to help to bring it into balance?
Shariputra, form is emptiness and the very emptiness is form; emptiness does not differ from form, form does not differ from emptiness; whatever is form, that is emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form, the same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses and consciousness.
Every day we see people hiding their true feelings and living to fit in with external demands. People bury what really matters to them, their deepest values in exchange for meeting the expectations of others, to be accepted and to feel superior in some way. So they miss the core of life: creating authentic and true connections.
In this modern society, we try very hard to avoid being alone with ourselves, and when we have free time we fill it with texting or social media. We are so scared to face our neurosis. Practice is a training so we are more and more comfortable in our own company. It starts when we sit down on our butts to do practice the first time.
All that is subject to arising is subject to ceasing. All things that are conglomerations of the five elements, of earth, air, fire, water, and space; All things that are the phenomena of consciousness, thought, emotion, concept, interpretation, understanding, and misunderstanding; Even consciousness itself arises and then ceases. In this way, everything is the same.
For the dying process to not be painful and confusing, there must be preparation. Though we apply this common sense in most every area, death must be approached as natural, not eschewed as distasteful taboo. Masters of meditation experience death’s transition as a mere change of clothes, and have described it as best they can, motivated by great compassion. Yet crossing over is a solo journey, one we must each traverse alone.
The word root guru has a sacred meaning, that my teachers define in a very specific way: the person who not only tries, but succeeds in bringing about a complete change in your mind to such an extend that the grip of duality is loosened and that the nature of mind is totally laid bare in its naked state and can be accessed whenever remembered for the rest of your life. Perhaps the meditator only finds out many years later who the primary guru was.
Living in a world focused on what is outside us, and not looking within, we are taught from a young age that we need to become something more than we are right now. We are encouraged to always be doing: we must learn; we must buy; we must acquire and achieve. And for absolute certain we must become better than we are right now just sitting here doing nothing. The Buddha taught the opposite. He said that by learning to let the mind be, just as it is right now, all our good qualities can unfold from within.
We may like to think that we know what the mind is – we speak of it so casually, but how well do we really know this mind of ours? For some of us at times, our inner state can change, and moods can appear as if out of nowhere, but is it destined to be as random as that? What control can we have over our own experience? When it comes to the mind, I’m thinking now, some things should not be a complete mystery.