Saturday, December 23, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017

Have noticed this increasing urge to start writing again over the past month. Not at all sure why, or what wants to come out, but will at least try and satisfy tonight's urge by wishing everyone the merriest of Christmas' and the very happiest of holidays.

As I sit here listening to an internet radio station from Odawara, Japan I noticed how much I enjoy looking at the reflection of my Christmas tree in the door going into the dining room. I was brought up with the Christmas tradition, full of trees, presents, family, fun, camaraderie, and all the love that seems to flow like melted butter around the 25th of this month. It's a tradition that I will never outgrow — even though I call myself a Buddhist.

Then, as I sat there admiring the tree's reflection, I turned my head a little and, without thinking about it, looked at the tree itself. Also without thinking about it, I was immediately struck at the unbelievable difference between the reflection of the tree and the tree itself. Not because this was so amazing, but because with a jolt I was reminded at how much and how often we all look at a reflection of our lives instead of the real thing itself. How often and how much we spend our time focusing on what we think we are and what it means to be alive instead of what we really are and what being alive really is.

So much of our time is wasted living in shells. We live lives trapped inside this brain we were born with, seeing all of who we are as nothing more that what we allow our egos to define for us. Seeing who we are as no more than our reputations, our jobs, our spiritual, political, and moral beliefs, the combined consensus of our 10 closest friends. So much of our time is wasted believing that we are no more than the physical body we currently inhabit, and the abilities that this limits us to.

We could spend the rest of our lives asking why we live in this shell, where the shell came from, and why humans are so susceptible to allowing themselves to be trapped inside, but that would be a gross waste of time. Instead, why not just turn your head from the reflection and start to focus on the real thing? Why not shift your focus and look for those moments when Reality suddenly, and surprisingly, makes its appearance?

I think it was Proust who said something like, "The real journey of discovery comes not from seeking new places, but from looking with new eyes." That's what i'm talking about. As we work our way through the holiday season and towards a new year, i'm wishing for everyone to realize that life would be different if we learned to "look with new eyes." Technically that isn't true; life wouldn't be different, life is life. But your experience of what life is would change dramatically. It wouldn't be like looking at a new appearance of your normal life, it would be finding yourself in a completely new life.

As I write that i'm reminded of what Ram Das said once so I stopped and looked it up. "The spiritual journey is a journey leaving behind every model we've had of who we are. It's a journey that involves the transformation of our beings such that our thinking mind becomes our servant rather than our master." Did you get that? It's a journey that means leaving behind EVERY model we have ever had of who we are. EVERY MODEL.

There is no room in reality for our petty ideas that we are this or that, that or this, one thing or another, right or wrong, good or bad, spiritual or secular, believers or unbelievers. There is no room in reality for enlightenment or stupidity, nirvana or samsara, perfection or lack. There is no room in reality for anything. There is no room in reality for nothing. Reality isn't is. Reality isn't isn't.

And as paradoxical as it seems, that is what allows us to be anything that we want to be, everything we can be. It is what gives you the ability to be the person you think you should be as you work your way from birth to death trying to figure out the best possible way to live your life. Lao Bendan may live on the Reality side of that non-existent line, but Dave has both feet and a butt firmly planted on the non-reality side. Who Dave is may come from the Reality side of the equation, but how he lives his life is firmly grounded in the non-reality side. All I can hope he does is to stop every once in a while and turn his head to look at the actual tree instead of just the reflection.

And my wish for the new year is that all of you will join him. Make it a New Year's resolution to live a more mindful life, a more awakened life; aware of the infinity that you are and all the possibilities this brings to you. Aware of the unbelievable immensity that you are and all the peace and love this allows you to share.

So, along with wishes for happy holidays, I wish everyone the courage to start the new year by looking inside, looking through that silence between any two thoughts and seeing who we really are. And when you see me, I promise that i'll see you and smile.

1 comment:

Marga said...

���� And a bright Christmas and a happy Newyear to you too.
Marga van Ree