Thursday, February 15, 2018

The bird in your hand is the true doctor.

It is our nature to trust in credentials, accolades and titles. More times than not you’ll trust the opinion of a doctor over that of an uneducated man, because the assumption is that a man of letters has earned his stripes and is better educated (e.g., he knows more). Once I had a friend who was studying for her PhD and she asked me, “What do you call a person in the doctorate program who graduates last in the class?” I thought about what that might be and then she told me the answer: Doctor.

Unfortunately our system of education is lacking. The emphasis is on rational analysis and communications (e.g., reading, writing and critical thinking). All of that is fine but it doesn’t train our trans-rational capacities: the wellspring of all thought and non-thought. Consequently we have become a very rational, stressed out, fear oriented violent species. We can, and do, justify the most egregious behavior possible and then feel righteous about our words and actions, never realizing we are shooting ourselves in the foot.

Has that disparity ever crossed your mind? It is a puzzle, but shouldn’t be. The problem is simple (yet profound). The problem is, as expressed in contemporary vernacular: We are not cooking on all cylinders. Translation⎯We’re out of balance and living in a dream world. We are rational but lacking wisdom. Being educated does not necessarily make us wise and without wisdom rational thought leads us all astray.

One of the foremost examples of a wise yet uneducated man was the sixth patriarch of Chan (Chinese Zen). Huineng was born into the Lu family in 638 C.E. in Xinzhou (present-day Xinxing County) in Guangdong province and since his father died when he was young, his family was poor. As a consequence, Huineng had no opportunity to learn to read or write and is said to have remained illiterate his entire life. Nevertheless Huineng is regarded as one of the wisest masters of all time.

That’s the first point. The second is misleading labels. If The Buddha was born into today’s world he would undoubtedly be called “doctor” (properly so). He was, and remains, the most profound doctor of the mind of any time or place. The sort of doctor he would most closely approximate would be “psychiatrist,” although a modern psychiatrist functions within a presumed sphere of science, meaning measurable matter, in spite of the truth that the true mind can’t be found, much less be measured.

Some years ago I read neuropsychologist/philosopher Paul Broks, book Into the Silent Land. In probing the layers of human physiology and psychology, Broks, leads us through a haunting journey. It is hard not to be stunned by reading his dissecting view of what it means to be human. We take so many things for granted. That, which is basically inanimate “meat,” animates with consciousness, cognition, imagination, feelings and every other aspect of our condition, and seems to float by as a given. This fundamental mystery is so ingrained into our being that it goes unnoticed, but not by Broks.

He asks alarming and provocative questions such as “Am I out there, or in here?” when he portrays an imaginary man with a transparent skull, watching in a mirror at his own brain functioning. He notices, for us all, that the world exists inside the tissue residing between our ears. And when the tissue is carefully examined, no world, no mind, no ego, no self, no soul, no perceptual capacities, nor consciousness—nothing but inanimate meat is found. Unable to locate, what we all take for granted, he suggests that we are neither “in here” nor “out there;” maybe somewhere in the space between the in and the out, and maybe nowhere at all.

Indeed, as so many mystics and seers have noted: The mind can’t be found and none of us can study what is beyond measuring and defining. Nevertheless it is the true mind (which can’t be found) that establishes the source of wisdom, harmony and the lack of stress. Speaking from intimate personal experience I can state without equivocation that once you experience your true Self-nature your world will turn over. And why would that be? Because stress is the result of craving what you have already. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to obtain what lies ever within your hand. So long as we believe we don’t have what we need, we will forever remain anxious, frustrated, disappointed, ill and full of stress. And that makes us all sick, not to mention very, very tired.
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