Working on yourself.

(extracts from various teishos)

The idea that the craving for experience, the clutching after this, that and the other, may be a cause for suffering is not difficult to accept. It is more difficult, but nevertheless possible to accept that the craving for a completely different kind of life, to be ‘reborn’ psychologically or even physically, causes suffering. But Buddha goes beyond that: “we must give up the need or wish to get beyond it all; the wish to get out of suffering itself.”   It is of no value to wish for the end of this particular set of problems, because another is bound to take their place. We need to go not only beyond anxiety, but beyond pleasure as well …….

Our practice requires delicacy, the feather touch.   We must go constantly towards the simple, towards movement which is no movement. It is only when you are satiated with the changeable that you are ready to turn around and step into what the mind sees as emptiness and darkness. We fight constantly to stay away from this emptiness and darkness,  yet it is only emptiness and darkness from the point of view of the mind.   It is pure serenity.   And it has light, because you are the light.

It is the questions that nobody asks because they sound foolish that can help us, can open up vistas that were closed because we took them for granted. Possibly the most foolish question is ‘what is anything?’   What is a thing?  When we use the word ‘it’, which we use constantly, what does ‘it’ mean, what lies behind it, what gives it power and meaning?

Another such question is ‘what am I?’   These questions are foolish because they have no answer, no conceptual correspondence. One tries to answer the question ‘what am I?’ and in doing so one has to bring everything we take to be ourselves into consideration.  We know that we identify ourselves with situations, with our emotions, with what is going on around us, with things that we feel we possess.  What does it mean to identify?  We seek an identity.  What is this identity?

In other words, look for that which is constantly part of our vocabulary, constantly being used.  That which we have used all our lives on the assumption that we knew what we were talking about.    For example, what does it mean ‘to know’?   What does it mean ‘to be’? What does it mean ‘to own’?   It is no good bringing forth another word to define the one being questioned.

A word is like a window, which opens up if you look through it, but which of itself is just a blankness. You have to look through the window, or allow light to shine through the window, for the window to fulfill its function.  In the same way the word ‘being’ or ‘knowing’ is an indication to open the mind in a certain direction.  Unless that invitation is accepted, to use the words is really to deal with something quite meaningless. If one looks through the word then one will have some realization of what the word is opening on to.

What lies behind the structure of concepts and memories that we call knowledge? What gives it reality?  Reality is not given by what words designate, so where does it get its meaning? When you investigate this conceptual structure, which is one of the ways we use the word mind, when we look at it in terms of what gives it its meaning, its value, we realize it is awareness. It is the means by which we focus and fix awareness in a particular way.  By investigating we dissolve this fixity.

This is of course very true in terms of that which we see as most solid, our suffering. If we can have the courage to face our condition, our anxiety, fear, terror. if we can look into the heart of this, where it gets its power from, see what gives it that particular absolute quality,  if we can identify what gives it this power over us, then it loses that power.

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1 Response to Working on yourself.

  1. Marie Laure Leclercq says:

    for me, this is one of the most powerful posting ever. it goes right at the core of it. thank you Jean
    .

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