Friday, September 13, 2013

The essence of essence.


An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid (e.g. not compatible with water) containing volatile aromatic compounds from plants. An oil is “essential” in the sense that it carries a distinctive scent, or essence, of the plant. Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation. In other words the essential scent has been derived from a source plant but the plant is no longer needed for the aroma to exist.

There is a curios correspondence between an essential oil and us. We too contain an essence that has been extracted from our source and this essence contains the aroma of the source. Neither an essential oil nor our essence can be further distilled and neither is subject to changing conditions. Once we arrive at essence the aroma can be infused in various media and the aroma persists.

What is the essence of essence? Of all essences? Bodhidharma called the essential essence “our mind”—The Buddha. Nothing, he said is more essential than that. It is the void void: The essential essence. Out of this apparent nothingness comes everything. This is the realm of the unconditional absolute, beyond the conditions of this or that.

That may or may not sound esoteric lacking usefulness but I’ll offer you two frames of reference: One from Lao Tzu and the other from physicist Lawrence Krauss. Lao Tzu said this about usefulness: 

“We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.”

And this from Lawrence Krauss. We are mesmerized by what moves but never consider what makes it move.
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