Saturday, October 10, 2009

Moving In

The process of moving into a house is similar to the process of spiritual integration. The first step is to find your house then comes a longer process of getting rid of stuff left over from the previous tenant. Slowly you begin to arrange the new furniture and settle in. But this is just the beginning. Through living we track in dirt and create clutter. Then we have a choice—we can either allow the dirt to accumulate or adopt a practice of continuous cleaning which never ends.

It is the same with the path of Zen. Before we can move in we have to realize that there is a new house. Before that point the thought of moving can’t even occur. Once we make this realization we have to make a slow transition of moving out the old tenant (our ego) along with all of his accumulated baggage, which can be massive. The idea of moving into a completely clean house with our new belongings is not going to happen. We move in and over time discover stuff left behind which we thought was gone. So then we begin. As we clean we find not only the accumulation of new dirt but also remnants of our old tenant.

The analogy is not perfect but close. The goal is to integrate—To one day eliminate all remnants of prior occupation and become a whole person, living in a house with no divisions or barriers separating our noumenal and phenomenal aspects. One part of us is complete and perfect; the other part is a work in process. The job of bringing these two together never ends. Clouds come and they go. Tides swell and subside. There is war and there is peace. There are people we like and those we don’t; events which we find disturbing and ones we cherish. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity...” Enlightenment is complete and it isn’t—Letting go is hard work but that is the way of Zen.
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