Sunday, October 21, 2012

There's More Than One Way To Be Confused

The problem with being a terrible writer is that i never know how to write what i want to say. At least that's how it seems most of the time, but i'm wondering if the problem, at least some of the time, is that i can't write something because i still haven't decided what i really think about a subject.

Hmmmmm....... So, i've delayed enough that i'm just going to start typing and see what comes out.

I think we decided that i'm not a fan of tariki, except for those moments when i am. I think we decided that i'm firmly in the jiriki camp, even though we all know that most of what we do is outside of our control.

Make sense so far? I didn't think so. Try living in my head for awhile and you'll really come to understand confusion. (or delusion? but i'm not going there...)

From my perspective, just like the Buddhist concepts of Ultimate Reality and Conventional Reality, tariki and jiriki are simply two ways of looking at the world. At times, tariki is appropriate, at other times, jiriki is appropriate. Attempting to confine them to opposite corners of the ring and preventing them from slugging it out in the center of the ring just doesn't make sense. In fact, it's impossible; locked arm-in-arm, swinging with both fists and fighting it out in center ring (i.e., your life) is the only place the two concepts can survive.

There is only one person who is responsible for Dave's life, there is only one person who can be responsible for that life, and that is me, the jiriki believing, conventional reality inhabiting me. Nothing gets done without my doing it. Nothing gets learned without my studying it. Nothing is let go of, nothing is surrendered without my agreeing to the release. I'm the only one who can tell Dave to sit his butt down on the zafu, to tell him to start the timer, and tell him to look for his breath until "things" settle down.

But once that settling has taken place, once Dave is gone, I'm once again free to sit on that zafu, free to breath, free to live. It's this I, the same I that you would talk about when you disappear on your zafu, that really runs things. It is this I that is the tariki believing, ultimate reality inhabitant.

So, back to where this was supposed to go.... If tariki means acknowledging some god, buddha, or other deity as the ultimate decider and doer in my life, then i'm don't accept it as a valid or useful part of my life's philosophy. If, on the other hand, tariki means acknowledging that Dave is nothing more than this bag of skin, with a brain and all of the other useful organs stuffed inside, trained and conditioned from birth to act, think, and do in certain unthought-about ways, and that the real me, the I that is you at one and the same time, is who i really am, and that that I is the "other" in tariki,... (whew)... then yes, i can see a place for tariki.

Which brings be all the way back to the henro trail. I occasionally tell stories about how the Daishi was watching out for me on the trail, how things were going wrongly until the Daishi stepped in and set them straight. A lot of henro have similar stories. Part of henro lore is that the Daishi walks with each and every henro, accompanying them and aiding them as necessary. In fact, that's why i start each walk with a trip to Mt. Kōya and the Daishi's mausoleum. I go there to ask for his help and company. Only after doing that do i go to Shikoku and begin walking.

But here is where i have to be honest. I do not believe that the ghost or spirit of that 9th-10th century monk is actually there watching over me. Sorry, but i don't think he is sitting in eternal meditation. When his followers closed the doors on his mausoleum all those many centuries ago, he was really, really dead. (I can't believe i just said that in public)

Yet i do say, still say, and will continue to say that the Daishi accompanies all henro that ask him, that the Daishi watches out for us and keeps us out of trouble, that the Daishi brings help when it's needed. I know that sounds like a contradiction and that i'm firmly in the "other power" camp here, relying on the power of that eternally meditating, unceasingly watchful, always ready to help, promoted to deity status, Kōbō Daishi.

I say it, though, because for me, "the Daishi" is symbolic for that I i talked about above, that I that doesn't walk the henro, trail, on Shikoku, in Spring, even though it's there every second of every day that Dave is doing just that. The Daishi is symbolic for everything Dave sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches, and thinks while on the trail, even though he is none of those. The Daishi is who walks in Dave's shoes when Dave steps out on a break.

I, Dave, firmly believe in tariki, if the "other" referred to is the nothing that manifests as everything, the non-sense that makes sense of everything. And it's when Dave can step out of the way and let that "other" take care of things that it appears that the Daishi is there watching out for him and keep him out of trouble.

I guess the only way to say this is that Dave is firmly in the jiriki camp but I'm in the tariki camp. But, i'm not sure if that sounds all that clear.

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