I used to think that aiming high in life was important. Like being president or the first in a race or the most popular or the top on a test had some great meaning. Yet with the passage of time I saw the beauty of small things, of living in the moment, rather than being distracted by some uncertain ideal that one might get attached to. I saw that grandiosity is not grandeur. It is quite rare in this world to meet a selfless being. We are educated to be proficient in exercising judgment....and yet there is very little wisdom in such an approach. The saint or the wise person is not a slave to the intellect.
The politicians of modern times and of much of mankind's history have held on to power using the psychology of fear and the philosophy that might makes right. The Gandhi's of this world are the exception to that general rule. Peace is born of extending forgiveness and compassion, of letting go of our group-mentalities, our comparisons, vested interests, arrogant viewpoints and our illusionary sense of separateness.
Invariably, if you listen to modern day politicians you see the worst of our humanity. You hear the twisted glorification of our nationalism, our pride and our pettiness. Just to see all of this is critical to living a different kind of life. In this world, we need to be careful not to confuse popularity for a measure of wisdom.
The world is not going to change very much. The wars will go on. The nation states will continue to bicker and disagree. After the age of the terrorist, there shall come a new threat and a new war to deal with it. And the populace, by and large will be swept along by it all...thinking themselves to be Americans, or French or Christian or Islamic or whatever ideology suits them. Very few will awaken to the insanity of it all. Democracy shall continue to produce mediocre results and captalism will go on brainwashing us into being good consumers.
Only at the level of the individual is there the possibility of change. What we do with our lives is important. But more important is whether we know what we really are. Because, how we see what we are influences everything we do. All problems start and end in the mind. The mind is the instrument of perception. By and large we mispercieve. But correction is possible - at least to those who are urgent to know what it is that ultimately percieves. In the depths of every human being there is a quality of being that has outgrown all labels.
I would say that honesty is possible. The thing we need to get over is the conception that it is somehow difficult. Real honesty dissolves the motives that keep us bound to self-centeredness.
An anonymous teacher who pours his heart into his work, a street cleaner who does his best, a bus driver who drives carefully and conscientiously....these are humble approaches. I think there is a popular view in the world that to be someone of import you have to do something exceptional. I do not think this is the case. What is important, is to recognise that whatever we do must be done with exceptional care and sensitivity...and detachment. The key is not so much what we do - but rather being aware of what we are and having a sense of deep responsibility behind how we live our lives..that and reverence for life, are absolutely essential.
To earn lots of money as a lawyer by taking advantage of others or to be a famous governor as a consequence of championing selfish interests and letting corruption slide...is to sacrifice the real reasons we came here. The real reasons we came here are related to questioning what we are...and, in so doing, undoing the misperceptions we hold about ourselves that keep us bound by the blinders of fear and a sense of lack. Life begins with nobility and is kept ever-meaningful by the guiding light of wisdom.
"What is a saint?
A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility.
It is impossible to say what that possibility is.
I think it has something to do with the energy of love.
Contact with this energy results in the exercise
of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence.
A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago.
I do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order.
It is a kind of balance that is his glory.
He rides the drifts like an escaped ski.
His course is the caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock.
Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance.
Far from flying with the angels, he traces
with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state
of the solid bloody landscape.
His house is dangerous and finite, but he is at home in the world.
He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart.
It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."
- L. Cohen, Beautiful Losers (1966)
What is the significance of the saint's "work"?
[If you cut yourself it is not my blood that flows.]
You may wonder what hidden treasures lie between us.
Perhaps, we met for a brief moment in a journey.
Perhaps, we have been sisters and twins.
Perhaps, we dreamed of loving one another one day.
Or is it that you fathered my children?
Yet who is this I? who is this presumptive you?
My senses and mind tell me one story.
They support the notion that I am a body-mind.
If you cut yourself it is not my blood that flows.
When I sleep deeply.
When the moon arcs over the passive form of my body.
When my mind is quiet and there are no dreams
traversing the ocean of consciousness...
Then, I have no name nor apparent identity...
There is relationship with something else.
If you cut yourself it is not my blood that flows.
Still, appearances are not the full story.
There is a state transcending appearances.
A doctor is a noble profession.
He seeks to reduce or remove the suffering of others...
Using the tools of knowledge and the instruments
of science to heal the pain.
All of this has its place.
What then is the significance of the saint's "work"?
His goal is similar to that of the doctor.
Yet, rather than temporary relief, his focus goes
to the root of the problem.
Where the doctor works to cure the disease,
the saint uncovers the source of all diseases; the cause of death.
That discovery brings release from the world of appearances.
That destroys the idea of separate identities, of contrasts and distance.
Only that, ultimately, can be said to heal.
- ► 2008 (31)
- ► 2006 (147)
- ► 2005 (199)