Monday, August 29, 2011

Hanging On

Lao, you got a minute?

Sure, what's up Dave. Haven't talked to you in a while.

Yeah, i was out of town a lot this spring; on Shikoku for two and a half months and then a couple of weeks this summer on my bike. It was nice.

Great, glad you enjoyed the trips. How was Shikoku this time? Learn anything?

It was different, i can't deny that. Guiding someone and being completely focused on their needs certainly changed the nature of the walk, but, yes, i still learned a lot.

Such as?

That i'm still an egotistical fool and have a lot of baggage to throw out.

Good lesson. But, that's not why you're here i would guess.

No. I've been reading your blog and just don't understand what you're trying to say. On the one hand, there is an objective reality "out there." On the other hand, everything is a creation of our mind. I just can't see past that contradiction.

Look around the room, Dave. Point out one thing that you are absolutely certain exists.


Who is that?

You? Lao Bendan. The stupid old man from Lockport.

That's it?

Older than young, male, retired, or semi-retired as you like to say, balding, what's left is greying, clean shaven about half the time, athletic, likes to ride his bike and run, loves to travel, loves even more to read.

If i changed my name, would that change who i am?

No, of course not.

No, my name is just a mental tag we all use to individuate who i am so we all know who we are talking about. So that is a creation of my, and your, mind. Stupid old man?

:-) No, that's not true in the first place, so yes, that too is a creation of our minds.

It is true, and if you don't see that, you've missed the point of a great many of my blog posts. But, let's save that for another discussion. Maybe over a few beers some evening. What about old? Male? Retired? Actual facts? Or creations of our minds?

Well, you're certainly not a spring chicken. You definitely quit your job. And, i'd bet that if i snuck in the bathroom while you were in the shower i could verify that you are, most definitely, a male.

Would the 100+ people living on Okinawa say that i am old?

Of course not, they'd say you're still young.

So that isn't an objective fact. That label is one you created in your mind. The same with retired and male — you can point to an objective fact out there, but the label you stick on it, the meaning you give it, the way you interpret it, is created in your mind. Not everyone in the world, looking at the same fact you do, will apply the same label or interpret it the same way.

But what about the absolutely objective facts, like the sun rise this morning at 5:30?

Did the sun really rise?


At the time you saw the sun clear the horizon, would everyone in the world agree that it was morning? Or that it was 5:30?


So all of that is a creation of your mind only. Listen, i'm not saying that there isn't an objective universe, that the sun didn't get higher and higher above the horizon throughout the day, or that it wasn't 5:30 when it happened. I'm simply saying that absolutely everything about the way you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel that objective universe, the way you interact with it, with no exceptions, is filtered through your mind. And since everybody's mind is different, everyone has a different interpretation of that objective universe.

So what? That is all trivial? What does it matter that the people in Australia call my summer, winter? Or that people in Okinawa consider you young when i think you're old? All you're saying is that everything is relative.

No i'm not. Far from it. Yes, these examples are trivial, i don't deny that. But what i want you to do is realize, at the very core of your being, that you can't find anything that isn't filtered through your mind. Everything is a creation of your mind. That table is only a table because you say it is. That person is only a saint because you say she is. A planet is a planet only because you say it is. I am only good because you have decided that i am.


So everything you think you know as FACT, indisputable, certainly true, is also a creation of your mind. There is nothing that you know, that you own, that you think, that you use, that you believe, that you worship... that is what you think it is. That exists in any certainly verifiable way that is unaffected by your mental processes.


So stop judging people because you, or your group, has labeled them good, bad, or indifferent. Stop fighting because somebody wants something that you call yours. Stop putting people to death because you have decided that they are criminals and don't deserve to live. Stop being nice to one neighbor because she's beautiful and snubbing another because she's not. Stop loving one person because that person fulfills some of your needs and hating others that don't. Stop believing your dogma and vilifying others because they don't agree with your version.

No one can do all of that.

Wrong. Most people don't want to do all of that. It's not that they can't. Why don't they? Because that would mean giving up the belief that everything they think they are is necessarily true, is certain fact. Most people don't have the guts to do that. They want to see themselves as right. As good. As fair. As friendly. As beautiful. As successful. As smart. As inventive. As sexy. As macho. As any number of things. They have invested countless years trying to convince the world and their friends that they are the story that they have invented, when in fact it is only a story. Most people don't have the courage to throw the story away and see the being that exists underneath all of that. They can; they just don't want to.

And how would i be better off if i did? I don't see how i could function in the world if i did that.

The world would still be here. Your job would still be here. Your friends would still be here, if they keep you as a friend after you change. Your house, your car, your body, your brain, your ability to think, see, hear, etc. It would all still be here. Functioning as if nothing happened. BUT, and this is the huge but, your relationship to all of that would have changed in unimaginable ways. You would still be the same person, but "you" would no longer be there.

If i wanted to see this, how would i go about it?

Sit on your butt. To start. Sit until your mind settles down for extended periods of time. It could take hours to get there or it could take years. Maybe decades. Depends on the person and the sincerity they bring to their practice. Then when all is calm, crawl into that eternity existing between two thoughts. Crawl into that space where you, 'out there,' and any relationship between them all cease to exist.

You're describing a vegetable.

Don't stay there permanently. Stay for some fixed amount of time. Then when the meditation timer goes off, get up, and go about your normal life. The life defined by "Dave." Wash, rinse, and repeat every day. Day after day. Year after year.


That is for you to find out. You will change. You will evolve. You will mature spiritually. You will begin to see with more than just your eyes. If you are patient and persistent, you will see. And you will be thankful you persisted. Promise. OK, i need to take a shower. We'll talk again later.

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