Tuesday, April 24, 2018

I can’t find myself.

Reaching toward difference.
One of life’s most enduring themes has been to find ourselves. The quest begins early, reaches a peak during adolescence and tails off afterward, largely because of frustration. Defining our identities is thus a universal pursuit that rarely culminates in anything real. If it reaches a conclusion, at all, it travels down the road of ego construction and maintenance. More times than not nothing beyond ever occurs and we process what we think of ourselves in terms of how others see us, from moment to endless changing moment. One moment a “good” self-image, the next a “bad” one. Our sense of who we are dances on the end of a tether like a boat anchored in a turbulent sea. Rather than finding our true, united nature, the quest is driven to enhance our differences. In the words Asvaghosa: “In the all-conserving mind (âlaya-vijñâna) ignorance obtains; and from the non-enlightenment starts that which sees, that which represents, that which apprehends an objective world, and that which constantly particularises. This is called the ego (manas).” In contemporary terminology, we lust for individuating ourselves at the expense of uniting ourselves.

Scottish poet Robert Burns phrased the dance thusly: “O wad some power the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us!” (Modern English: “Oh would some power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.”) But poetic as it may be, that seeing is looking in the wrong direction. The “ourselves” expressed here is an exterior view when the true “us” lies beneath any perceptible view. What few ever realize is the perceptible dance of the self-image of us is tethered to that immovable anchor of the real unimagined us, yet it remains in our depths, unknown to all, awaiting discovery. 

Consequently, our sense of self remains fixed to the cause of all suffering: ego. The late, great Indian Buddhist philosopher and practitioner (e.g., Shantideva) noted: “All the harm, fear, and suffering in the world are caused by attachment to the self: Why should I hold on to this great demon?” Importantly, he also said, “Without contacting the entity that is imputed, you will not apprehend the absence of that entity”Bodhicaryavatara. Translation: In order to be able to deny something, we first of all need to know what it is that we are denying. And that profound observation points us in the direction of emancipation from the “great demon”. Nothing is more motivating toward a solution than to personally experience the results of egotism. Nobody wishes to be associated with a person who is angry, greedy and deluded. And those character traits define egotism.

Not only does the great demon create suffering, it is also the pathway out of suffering…“Every suffering is a buddha-seed because suffering impels mortals to seek wisdom. But you can only say that suffering gives rise to buddhahood. You can’t say that suffering is buddhahood. Your body and mind are the field. Suffering is the seed, wisdom the sprout, and buddhahood the grain.”―Bodhidharma. Suffering is, in essence, the driving force that compels us toward the solution of genuine Self-discovery, where the opposite characteristics of compassion, generosity, and wisdom reside.

A thorough and honest examination of which characteristics dominate contemporary life ought to tell us how to solve the misery of the world—Finding our true immaculate selves.
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