teisho 1118 (2008)
One of the things that many people feel is that there is a higher self, a real self, a cosmic self, and that we have to make contact with that higher self. And so the tendency is to look outside, to feel the true self is something other, something different. But everyday mind is the way.
Because we believe ‘I am something’ we are bound. Freedom arises with ‘I am’. Walking, talking, sleeping, eating – it is all everyday mind. It is all the miracle of everyday mind. And yet we look for some other self to appear, a higher self. The self is one, it is always now; you are that self. You have ideas of what you have been or will be. The ideas of what you have been are what we call memory, the ideas of what you will be are what we call goals. When we have memories, we say they are in the past; when we have goals, they are in the future. But they are both ideas, and ideas are now.
We live in a world of ideas. We should make a distinction between ideas and thoughts or concepts. An idea is both a view and a viewpoint. We structure the world with ideas. And because everything is an idea as far as we are concerned, we feel ‘I am an idea’ amongst all the other ideas. When we try to see into our true nature, we try to get the real idea, the right idea. But the self is not an idea.
We can sum up the drama of existence in the following way: hold out your hands with the left palm up, and the right hand above it, palm down. Then push the left hand down with the right hand and push the right hand up with the left hand. Do this for a little while and you will wear yourself out. This is what we call life. Then just drop your hands down, stop the pushing up and down. Where there has been conflict, effort, struggle, strife, longing for change, there is instead the freedom of a Spring morning. Nothing missing, nothing absent, nothing needs to be done.
These words from my teacher never fail to affect me. Thank you for this.