Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Living On Dotted Lines

I talk a lot about looking for silence, looking for those gaps between individual thoughts. The silence found in those gaps is where you want to spend your time. It is in this silence where you grow spiritually, where you come to see the truth of the reality we live in, where you come to see who you really and truly are. All progress on the path is made when you are walking inside this silence.

Here's how i see it. Look at this line:

_ _   _  _    _ _ _   _ _            _   _ _      _  _    _        _

What is it? Obviously a dotted line. When asked to describe it, our first response is that it's a solid line broken by sections of blank space of different lengths. But, that definition rests on the belief that the important part of the line are the solid parts; the blank spaces are omissions.

What if you turned that around, though. Look at the line again, but this time try to see it as the blank space from the left side of the screen all the way to the right, interrupted by a series of short solid lines. It's easy to say, yeah, i see that, on an intellectual level, but it's difficult to really see the blank space across the screen as what's really there and its being interrupted by occasional solid lines.

Take this to the idea of your mind and thoughts. As we start the process of trying to calm our minds, we realize that our thoughts run rampant. Our thoughts are like a solid line through our mind. As we learn to sit and allow the mind to quiet down, our thoughts start to resemble the dotted line, with longer and longer gaps between the solid thoughts the longer we persist.

And that's where a great many people stop the process, i imagine. They see the thoughts as natural and spend their energies trying to expand the gaps. This is the natural state.

But it's not. The natural state is the blank line, interrupted by the solid line. Instead of looking for the gaps, learn to live in the silence, enjoy the silence, and notice when a thought comes up. Let it go, don't pay attention to it, know that it's just one of those solid lines, short and temporary, and that it will soon disappear. Then let it dissolve back into the natural blank space again.

Is there any difference between noticing the thoughts or noticing the gaps? In principle, no. In practice, yes. When you come to see that it is the gap that is natural and normal, your focus changes. You have made a first step onto the path of freedom, as opposed to the path towards freedom. It's like being at home and thinking of the henro trail on Shikoku versus being on the henro trail and occasionally having thoughts of home.

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