Sunday, January 13, 2008

Drinking Tea

In my last posting I ended with a confusing idea. This “...just go on suffering anyway” idea sounds wrong headed, so I must explain. Suffering is what is caused through attachment and attachment can’t be avoided so long as we are subject to dependent origination and causal linkage. In my example of a driver and what is driven, combined with a linkage between cars and accidents, the conjunction results in suffering. The only way to have a different, non-suffering outcome is to detach drivers from cars and create a different causal linkage that doesn’t entail accidents. But this is a purely fictitious/after-the-fact fantasy. In the first place it is impossible to detach drivers from cars since drivers arise with what they drive (cars) and no one can wind time backyards and change circumstances in a way which may seem more desirable.

The opposite of suffering (bliss) is not something that entails circumstances nor subject/object separation. Suffering and bliss occur in the same realm. Bliss has nothing to do with circumstances. Bliss is unconditioned—transcendent to all circumstances and results from accepting life just the way it is and not being disturbed. And why would it not be disturbing? It would be disturbing—always—at the conditioned level because of dependent origination and causal linkages AND never disturbed at the unconditional level. We are not one kind of condition vs. another kind of condition. We are both conditions at once.

The truth is that we are not carved up into mutually discrete sections like some butcher shop chart of a cow. We are an integrated whole. We speak as though we are parceled up but that manner of speaking is purely for convenience purposes. The relevant issue is who we are and how we respond to life, not what happens beyond our control (which is most everything). When we identify ourselves as the roles we play or the infinite abstractions of self, we will always suffer because these ways of identifying are not who we are. Who we are is unconditional and always secure. So when the tides of life flood us we will suffer yet we won’t.

We all have relationships. I am both a husband and a father. A husband is a husband because there is a wife. A father is a father because there is a child. When my sense of identity is attached to those roles I am vulnerable and subject to suffering. Why? Because when we have relationships we form conditioned expectations of performance. So long as our relationship partner performs up to expectations everything seems satisfactory. But let circumstances go against our expectations then there are problems. 

We will never find peace when we place our hopes for fulfillment in another person. So long as we do that we’ll be disturbed. The correct way is to get clear about who we really are (selfless and without conditions). Then we can have fulfilling relationships which are “filled-full” to begin with, not as a result of what our partner does or doesn’t do. It is ludicrous to speak of relationships which are detached. Such a thing can’t exist. Husbands are attached to wives in the same way that drivers are attached to cars. There is no such thing as a husband without a wife. That would be an ex-husband or a widower, neither of which would be a husband. This is what I meant when I said—“When we drink tea, we just drink tea, with nothing added. No honey (thoughts)—just pure tea.”
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