April 09, 2010


I have been wrong an infinite number of times. I will be wrong an infinite number of times in the future. Yet I will keep trying because there is nothing to try for.

The Heart Sutra sounds like gibberish. “Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form.” Bah.

But it sinks in, like lotion into skin, and disappears. That doesn’t mean it is gone.

The koans sound like riddles with no greater purpose than either to drive one mad or to make one a fool for the amusement of others. “If you meet the Buddha, kill him.” Or “Mu.”

But we keep rolling them around in our minds. Like pebbles in our shoes, they irritate us, but we are too busy to stop and shake them out. Going about our lives, we just pick up more. Our feet become resilient.

“Zen is bunk,” a child told her mother, a Zen priest, and her mother agreed. The different sects all have their different rituals, symbols, songs, and chants.

Tradition is like trying to cross the lake in a leaky boat with no oars, never realizing we are all perfectly capable of swimming. They all have maps and they can all say where they are going even though none of them have been there, never realizing they have never left that place.

There are countless lists – four truths, eightfold paths, three hallmarks, three refuges, one-hundred and eight delusions, five precepts. As if the world can be broken down into such neat little categories.

Each book in the library may talk about many things and many books may talk about the same thing, but if there were no catalog, we would not know.

Our mind is a monkey, a horse, a rampaging elephant. Our qualities are those of tigers, lions, garudas, dragons. We are like water and waves in the ocean and we burn like fire, strike like lightning, move like clouds across the sky, and shine like diamonds.

Yet we are not even “I.” No such person exists. So what then do we describe?

Life is suffering. Life is nirvana. The world is broken and it is basically good. People are ignorant and they are enlightened. All these things are taught, and by the same people, no less, within the same cannon of teachings, within even the same breath.

They are all true and they are all just words on paper with no more meaning than chicken scratches in dirt. Indeed, at least the scratches in the dirt have a purpose, to bring forth lunch for the chicken. Thus even doing the dishes may have more meaning than reading the dharma. “Wash your bowl.”

Hate cannot be cured by hate alone. Only by love does hate cease. This I believe and I believe there is profound value in reading, hearing, seeing, knowing this teaching.

Yet I disbelieve so much else, or even, do not believe it matters to believe one way or the other. God does not matter. Reincarnation does not matter. Metaphysical workings of the universe do not matter. But only because I do not believe they matter.

So the wheel turns. And I have come full circle. Again.

I could be wrong. I have been wrong an infinite number of times. I will yet be wrong an infinite number of times. And I will not keep trying because I already have everything there ever was or will be to try for.

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