Monday, July 20, 2015

Error, forgiveness and the roots of both.


If it is human to err and divine to forgive, what stands in the way of forgiveness? The knee-jerk answer is clearly the same answer that brings about erring in the first place: human nature. But this answer begs the next question: what is the nature of being genuinely human? And as important as it is to understand genuine human nature, it is of equal importance to understand divine nature and how these two relate.

Most religious answers say that divinity can’t err since by implication the divine doesn’t err. But if it is divine that forgives (and we do many times) there must be a part of us that is divine and another part that isn’t. Or is that a contradiction? Perhaps there is no contradiction when viewed from the deepest part of us outward to the skin of us. Perhaps genuine humanity IS divine, and by that I mean humans are the inexorable aspects of superficial and the deep, with error and forgiveness.

Bodhidharma said: “If you use your mind (your rational mind) to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind (your true mind) or reality. If you study reality without using your mind (your rational mind), you’ll understand both.”

It becomes clear after reading Bodhidharma that he acknowledged both the true mind (where unity prevails)  and the “everyday, rational mind of discrimination” as discriminate. These two are present in us all. One is virtual and based on being able to differentiate one thing from another thing (and becomes the source of all conflict), and the true mind: the source of everything, where there is no discrimination and thus no conflict. For conflict to exist the perception of difference has to exist. If there is no perception of difference, there is no conflict.


So how is this understanding supposed to help us in everyday life when it comes to making errors and forgiveness? It helps us to recognize that we are all the same (conflicted at one level of consciousness that is actually unreal) and not conflicted or different at the deepest level of consciousness that is real. It puts everything into the proper alignment and perspective. When we find ourselves embroiled in conflict and adversity, we need to notice which mind is the cause of the conflict. It can’t be the true mind since for conflict to arise, the perception of discriminate differences must exist. In the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra it says, when referring to the true mind, “In this world whose nature is like a dream, there is place for praise and blame, but in the ultimate Reality of Dharmakaya (the true mind) which is far beyond the senses and the discriminating mind, what is there to praise?”
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