The Silver Mountain

teisho 1013  (2006)

When you have not penetrated the Great Way, it is like silver mountains and iron cliffs. One of the descriptions of working on oneself is that it is like climbing a silver mountain that has no handholds or footholds. It is that sense of the impossible, the impenetrable. When you penetrate the Great Way, you find you are the silver mountain and iron cliff. This gives the feeling of it all dissolving.  One moment you are completely confined and the next one sees that what one had felt as confinement is vast limitless space.  It is as it is, and this is why you are told to start from where you are.

This mind of ours is convinced it is in control, there is a claim to omnipotence, omniscience.  Fundamentally the claim is justified, but when it is expressed through form, it is futile.  This claim is implicit in all that we do, and when we come to practice we cannot understand being totally thwarted. There is the belief that we have to change things, improve things, it isn’t enough as it is.  We do not see that the greyness, the dryness, the monotony, the uninspired quality, come from this futile attempt to change things.  It is only when we see it as it is that the sun breaks through.

When we are working on ourselves we are opening up to a flexible, fluid kind of mind.  A mind that can float freely.   A mind that is fixated with the absolutes of good and bad is a frozen mind. All the opposites freeze the mind. An unfrozen mind is capable of ethical appreciation; one is not confined by rules, by absolutes, by right and wrong, yes and no.  One is now confined by the needs of the situation.  If one is totally responsive to the situation, one is totally determined by that situation.  And yet that being totally determined is complete freedom. What is there outside you? What is there you lack? It keeps coming back to the same thing:  you are!

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