6.21.2008

Triflin' Hos

About two weeks ago, during my second day of Aikido training, the sensei read from a book of Hogen's Dharma talks before Zazen meditation, as he always does.  The passage on that particular day hit me like a lightening bolt, as it described so clearly the difficulties I've had recently with the neuroses and immaturity of people I foolishly invested something of myself in.

"There is no friend anywhere", just as "there is no enemy anywhere".  An old friend told me at the bar once "there's no such thing as friends, you know?"  You just have to laugh at a situation in which being grossly inconsiderate and verbally abusive are written off as "just what friends do", backed up with drunkenness and an inability to take any responsibility for the self and it's actions, using traumas from the past to excuse bad behavior...while actually calling someone out on their shit (what friends -really- do) and trying to talk about it makes one "the jerk".  Oh well.

From the lecture titled "Karma, desire, and our ultimate direction"

We could ask ourselves, "What is the real substance of our lives?  What are our aspirations?"  It is obvious to most people, surely, that our bodies are a mass of accumulated desires and that these desires generally constitute the motivating force in our lives.  Collective desires and karmic accumulations form our very being.  But, as long as we continue to live in such a karmic prison, our bodies are a nuisance to us.  I call this habitual death.  Most of us think we are living now; we are physically here, but that is not life!  Yet physical desires do have a role to play in our lives, their essential function being revealed to us through the desire itself.  The essential meaning of desire is revealed to us by our deepest inner life as we long to be penetrated by the light of truth.  When our true direction is being awakened by a deeper yearning, animal instincts function naturally helping us to realize our original desire.  But satisfying physical needs and appetites in a simple way is not the same as becoming a slave to them.  We must recognize that we cannot conquer our instincts by face-to-face combat; this would merely be maintaining the 'status quo'.

The same is true of our emotions. When we fall deeply in love, we may believe we are embracing and experiencing the true nature of universal love and compassion.  Real love, however, is not the fulfilment of our own inclinations, needs, or addictions; real love does not come from the ordinary level of human emotion and arises from no-mind.  Love is the unconditional offering to all life, and an acceptance of all life.  And yet the reality is that we are daily more and more involved in our emotional lives.  We suffer from jealousy, anger, insecurity, pride, loneliness... all as a result of endless distortions in our relationships.

Where is the real love within us?  We have failed one thousand times to find it, and yet we shall find it on the thousand-and-first try!  Even though such a relationship or encounter may be rare, there is still the possibility we may succeed while we are real human beings living in this real human world.

When we find real love (compassion), we shall transcend the repetition of desire.  If real love is not in our relationships - not only in relationships of an intimate nature, but in all relationships - they cannot work.  On the death of ego, in the acceptance of pain and our own failure, real love is kindled and newly born.  Love does not fail - we do!  We often fail to let love work within us because of our egos.  But we are born anew through the real crucifixion of ego in zazen, which leaves no trace of karma behind.

Even if we aspire to real love, we inevitably grow frustrated by an endless succession of animal instincts demanding satisfaction.  This means that we are constantly confronting the gap between our ideals and the real situation.  How, then, do we usually distinguish between right and wrong?  Our childhood experiences are always at work, subconsciously determining our vision of the world.  Originally, we are as pure as white paper; it is only our experiences which colour or stain our lives.  We may think we are taking on new colours, but underneath it all the purity and colours of our childhood remain.  When we are totally cleansed, then we can return to that original white paper.  Such purity, such emptiness, is our innermost self as it existed before the birth of our parents, now-by-now, before the cosmos came into existence.

We may think we are making progress in our lives, when we are in fact circling around on the very same plane of consciousness.  This process of conditioning is inevitable to human existence, but it is not inevitable that we remain in such a state.  The first step in reaching beyond our conditioning is taken when we realize that we are conditioned.

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