Monday, October 17, 2011

Making Omelets

Ordinary—Extraordinary: two sides, one coin. The two come along as a single unit of life and can’t be pulled apart, however much we may want. Before I became aware of this partnership I knew only the ordinary and the glued-on pain. It was what and who I thought I was. Life had a different plan however. Adversity stripped away the outer, ordinary covering and I discovered the indefinable extraordinary that lay beneath. Here there was no pain and since that discovery my life has been geared to a single focus: to share that discovery and help others to find their own place of no-pain.

I have come to know that all of us have these same two, inextricable sides. As I age, the outer part of me becomes more decrepit. It’s unavoidable. Getting physically old sucks! When I was younger I could sit zazen for days and dwell in that place of no-pain. That is no longer possible. Now my body hurts most all the time, but fortunately when I had the opportunity I found the quintessence of being human.

What is that extraordinary place? How can it be grasped? I don’t know how to adequately provide an acceptable answer and I’ve been trying to craft one for a very long time. Those who have traveled the path of Zen, and realized this extraordinary place have said, more eloquently than I could, that it transcends description. I believe that it does. Is it God? Is it Buddha-Nature? Are there any labels which will adequately suffice? I don’t think there are, but this lacking by no means implies that it is not real. Experience confirms its existence and my puny attempts here in Dharma Space are admittedly inadequate. But insufficient as they are, I do what I can to share the wealth.

My aging shell was cracked a long time ago and just keeps on going the way of all flesh. That will never stop. It is the way we are and I accept that erosion without sadness. But the truth is that there is an inner shell, more important than the outer one that must also be broken—the shell of the ego, known as our self-image. This shell is the primary one which denies access to the extraordinary place: The Dharma Space, where the truth of our freedom from pain exists. There is nothing that anyone can do to stop the advance of physical degradation but everyone can, and must, be the agent of cracking their own inner shell if the taste of essence is to be experienced.

Around 700 years ago in Germany a Christian theologian, philosopher and mystic by the name of Meister Eckhart said this...

The shell must be cracked apart if what is in it is to come out, for if you want the kernel you must break the shell. And therefore if you want to discover nature’s nakedness you must destroy its symbols, and the farther you get in, the nearer you come to its essence. When you come to the One that gathers all things up into itself, there you must stay.”

However this quintessence might be described is limited to the linguistic symbols we must employ when we communicate. The danger of any communication, however, is to participate in a fraud, leading those still locked in suffering, to mistake the symbols of communication for the essence which are inadequately being described. That is the danger but it is a risk which must be accepted. The surrogate of words can never take the place of tasting the sweet divine nectar. And to so taste requires a personal in-the-mouth experience. My words will not give anyone the taste. So be encouraged and beware. As you read, know that within, you possess a profound, indescribable treasure which lies hidden beneath your own shell. Breaking it hurts but so does giving birth.
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