Monday, June 27, 2011

Always Never

I am of two minds today.

Part of me agrees with George Bernard Shaw when he says "Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself." No, not just 'agrees,' but completely, unequivocally accepts as gospel truth. Life on the grandest scale, as in who you are and what you should do with your life, isn't something that you will "find;" it is something you decide on, something you create, something you build with hard work and persistence, based on preferences, likes and dislikes, circumstances, personality, and a whole slew of other inputs.

Part of me agrees with someone else who said "Our lives are shaped by our expectations, not by our accomplishments." Absolutely true. Our lives are defined by what we expect of them; don't expect much and you won't have much of a life, expect the universe and your life will be full and fulfilling.

You have to be careful, though, about having unrealistic expectations. As Tony Robbins says, unhappiness in life comes when our Life Conditions don't match our Blueprint, our view of how the world is supposed to work. When these match we are happy and content with our lives. When they don't match we are unhappy, the more so the higher the mismatch between the two. To go even further, unhappiness turns into suffering when our life conditions don't match our blueprint AND we feel completely powerless to change one or the other to bring them back into balance.

Then again, another part of me agrees with Dōgen when he told us not to look for who we are on the outside. In his Genjokoan he said:

"To learn the Buddhist Way is to learn about oneself. To learn about oneself is to forget oneself. To forget oneself is to perceive oneself as all things. To realize this is to cast off the body and mind of self and others. When you have reached this stage you will be detached even from enlightenment but will practice it continually without thinking about it."

I know that's not the way most of you have read that quote, it comes from a version that most people bad-mouth, but i like it. For me these words are very clear, very direct and to the point — you have to see, intuitively and directly, that "oneself" and "all things" are not distinct. That "enlightenment" and "daily life" are one and the same. That the key isn't to 'learn' something, but to 'forget' something. Everything. And when you do that.... nothing changes, your life continues, no extra efforts are demanded. Nothing changes even though everything changed.

On one side, life is what you make it. On the other, life is what was never made, never created, ever present, never added to, never subtracted from, never pure, never impure, never destroyed, never born. One side pays the material bills and gives you stuff. The other side pays the karmic bills and gives you life.

I don't see these two minds as contradictory, but on the surface it sure sounds confusing. Funny thing, though, is it's not.

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