Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hate Crimes

Evenings like tonight's are difficult. Ever since shortly before dinner something has wanted writing, has been pushing to come out, distracting all other thoughts all night long. Yet, every time I pick up a keyboard, the fingers refuse to type. It's like a sneeze that is right there, a big, deep inhale and then... nothing. Another sharp inhale, and... nothing. Again, another inhale, and... again, nothing. That's what it's been like all evening and my brain is revolting and demanding "OK already. Either spit it out or get over it and let's move on."

It all started when I was thinking about Kūkai and Dōgen today. As much as I love Dōgen, I have to say that I admire Kūkai just a little bit more. I enjoy Dōgen's teachings more, but as people, as seekers of the truth, Kūkai has always stood apart for me.

When Dōgen realized he didn't have the answers that would satisfy his thirst, he packed up and went to China in search of teachers; he went in search of other people who could impart their knowledge. When Kūkai found himself in that position, he left his teachers and headed to the mountains and beaches of a sparsely inhabited island. Kūkai seemed to understand that the answers he sought weren't to be found in words. Kūkai seemed to understand that he would find what he was looking for by giving up the usual, superficial approach, putting himself in a position where worldly distractions were minimized, and opening himself so that the answers could find him.

Put another way, Dōgen seemed to go to China to find out who he was. Kūkai went to Shikoku to find out who he was not. A man crossed the Inland Sea by boat, but no one got off the boat, no one wandered the island, meditating on mountain peaks and beaches, until no one had the strength to walk on his own, even though Kūkai was always right there with him.

How is it that by subtracting one from one you come up with infinity? How is it that by spending forty days and nights in the desert you come to see that you were never alone? How is it that by doubting knowledge you see the truth? How is it that only by letting go of the limited individual "you," you awaken to the limitless potential of who you really are?

How did Kūkai come to see this so clearly while most of us fight it so ardently? And that's where my fingers run out of words. There's more to this story and that's what's not coming out.

I hate nights like this.


Edward J. Taylor said...

Really enjoyed this post Lao. I feel that this return to the US for me has been about negation. During my 15 years in Japan, I carried a mental grocery list of things I felt I needed to return here to do, in order to be more complete or something. During the previous year and a half, they've been dropping away one by one.
"Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man..."

Lao Bendan said...

"felt i needed, in order to be more complete or something."

Ha, ha... Been there, done that. Or should i say, been there, doing that. :-)

The only thing I would quibble with is your choice of the word "negation." If we're talking about "the search," then IMO that is a backwards way of looking at it.

Looked at from the viewpoint of negation, you are starting from the assumption that the small "you" is the reality and you need to get rid of something to be complete.

Instead, I look at it as a process of expansion, allowing myself to expand out from that small not very significant center that I usually identify with into the vastness of all, the infinite oneness that I really am, that we really are, which is the real reality.

In the context of this post, you could say that Dogen's trip to China began as a process of negation, although later he understood and taught expansion. Kukai's trip to Shikoku was 100% expansion, an opening to what is. By simply giving up his fixation on what is not, he allowed himself to expand into his true self.

In any case, thanks for the kind words.