Sunday, April 16, 2017

Guests and Hosts

The road to nowhere.
Imagine the relationship between a guest (who checks in and out) and a host who accommodates the guest. These two are essential to one another. Without a host, the guest would have no where to stay. And without guests, a host would go broke due to lack of revenue. Thus they are two aspects of a quest which is intended to lead to a desired destination.

Now about the quest: Why does anyone go on a quest? The obvious answer is to move towards a goal, often symbolic or allegorical. Thus the precondition that motivates such a journey is to find what is presumed to be somewhere else, but for sure not here. Clearly there is no justification or purpose to journey far and wide if the treasure is already in hand. What if the desired treasure IS already in hand but the traveler remains unaware? In that case the treasure will never be found, because it is not located “far and wide”.

Now about the host: Unlike a guest, the host never moves anywhere, any time. If the host did move, how would the guest find a place of rest and nurture? In that case the host would be a moving target. Thus the host is fixed and permanent and the guest is always on the move and impermanent. In fact the guest can, and does, have a beginning and an ending; is born and dies. Not so for the host; no birth, no deathpermanent and eternal. And one more thing: The desired treasure is a “bird in hand,” not in the bush, only that bird seems to likewise fly in and fly away. Try to catch the bird by closing your hand and the bird flies away before the hand is closed.

The treasure we all seek is already within, and in Zen literature the treasure (the host) is called “Buddha-Nature:” our essential nature—who we are at the core. The problem is the traveler is unaware. The presumption is a quest will lead to a goal already present, and thus we are “…like someone in the midst of water crying out in thirst, like a child of a wealthy home wandering among the poor.” We, the travelers are the water: fluid and forever moving. The host is the ice, solid and unmoving. The traveller has to knock at every alien door to come to his own, and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.Rabindranath Tagore. Wherever the traveler goes, the host comes along, like a shadow that never leaves.
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