Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Looking where it’s not

Where is it?

“The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth. The named is the mother of ten thousand things. Ever desireless, one can see the mystery. Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.”

Question to the Buddha: “What is that smoothers the world? What makes the world so hard to see? What would you say pollutes the world and threatens it the most.”

The Buddha’s Answer: “It is ignorance which smoothers” the Buddha replied, “and it’s heedlessness and greed which make the world invisible. The hunger of desire pollutes the world, and the great source of fear is the pain of suffering.”

These two point to a central and valuable truth: Desire affects our ability to see clearly. Lao Tzu says that in a state of being desireless we see the mystery. In a state of desire we see manifestations. In other words we see what we want to see, not what’s there. Gautama says that desire pollutes the world and ignorance smoothers it, which then leads to greed and heedlessness, which renders the world invisible.

Obviously the world referred to by Gautama is not the world the average person sees. We see a world manifested out of desire. We see what we imagine will deliver the object of desire—fulfillment. But suppose, just for the sake of being contrary, that the unseen world is already full, but because we misdiagnose the disease (dis-ease=dukkha) we think it is not full. Now we’re faced with an impossible dilemma: Trying to fill what is already full.

This is a profound paradox that illustrates the driving force beneath the problems we are confronted by every day. We think we are fundamentally incomplete and all the while we are already complete. What can be more nuts than that? It is like a person searching everywhere for the nose on their own face. Without a mirror we just look right past our own noses. Without finding our worth within we go looking far and wide, while all the time what we seek is already in our hands. No desire means already full.

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