Friday, April 20, 2018

Where are we going?

Any road to nowhere.
When you cut through the extraneous and get down to the fundamental issue, knowing where we are and where we’re going is kind of important. And I’m not referring to your next business or vacation trip. I’m referring to the ultimate destination if there is one. That’s a rhetorical “if” statement. Obviously, we are here and just as obviously we will die, at least the physical house within which we live and have our being.

If we’re unsure of our ultimate destination then the Cheshire Cat (see image above) is quite correct: any road will take us there. On the other hand, if there is an ultimate destination then we are either heading for it by what we think and do or we aren’t. Many are persuaded there is no ultimate destination so it doesn’t matter. Any road will get them to nowhere.

However many are persuaded they will go either up to a heaven in the sky or down to the bowels of Hell. Consequently, these folks make an attempt to do what they can to hedge their bets against some nasty brimstone (call it an insurance policy against unknowing) by doing their best to be agents for good, which is not necessarily a bad thing but the motive is questionable. They kind of know they haven’t met the requisite conditions to get where they want to go, but just maybe it will happen anyway.

Such thinking overlooks the possibility that there is nowhere to go other than where we are. Yesterday is a dream and tomorrow is speculation. So the trip destination is like being inside a giant room, unaware that you are, and thus desiring to be in that room. Of course, this room is an unconditional one and as such can’t be either here or there, tomorrow, today or yesterday. And why would that be? Because it is beyond conditions (unconditional). And if it is unconditional then we don’t have to wait for the grave to get there. We’re already there. And why is that? Because its unconditional.

All sentient beings have consciousness—ever-present yet without any defining properties. It is always here, and there—everywhere yet nowhere. And the true nature of consciousness is Shunyata (emptiness). The ultimate nature of the mind is empty like it states in the Heart Sutra: “Likewise, consciousness is Empty, and Emptiness is also consciousness. So, natural Tathagatagarbha is the emptiness of the mind.” There is nowhere to go where it is not so why go anywhere?

Granted this perspective is not your ordinary view, which says that our earthly life is separated from both the good and the bad future places, and which way we go depends on thinking and behaving our way into one or the other. This view has a name: duality, which is the anathema of religious thought. Of course, this idea would contradict the fundamental dogmas of religions, which splits the matter into separate departments. This latter would indeed keep us separated from our source and make our union dependent upon the impossible task of never making a mistake, or miming a formula that has changed over time that requires you to admit that you’re a bum and incapable of satisfying the necessary conditions. So what’re your options? Letting our source do what it does.

But if IT is unconditional (and hasn’t gone on vacation) then he/she/it lives within us, outside of us, beyond time and circumstances. And if that is true then we’re in for a very short journey because our destination is right back where we started.

As unlikely as you may think, this outlandish idea is precisely what the parable of the Prodigal Son, taught by Jesus says, or if you prefer the Zen version, it is what Hakuin Zenji, one of the most influential figures in Japanese Zen Buddhism, taught. The following is from his famous Song of Zazen

“From the beginning all beings are Buddha.
Like water and ice, without water no ice, outside us no Buddhas.
How near the truth, yet how far we seek.
Like one in water crying, ‘I thirst!’
Like the son of a rich man wand’ring poor on this earth, we endlessly circle the six worlds.
The cause of our sorrow is ego delusion.’”

So where are you going? And are you sure? In the end, it matters little whether youre sure or not because what we believe has no bearing on what’s real. But knowing certainly makes the non-trip more interesting.
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