Seeing that which is

Explorations in the ageless questions of love, truth, wisdom, and the sacred.

The word, perfection, has become a toxic word. It is loaded with so much expectation that any free understanding of this word becomes very difficult. To have freedom means, does it not, to be able to observe without fear or pleasure. There are no strings attached, not the driving quality of attraction or aversion, so that one is able to look at something with simple eyes, without the habitual motive or calculation.

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I don't know if we ever feel anxious. That feeling of uncertainty, of not knowing, as if floating in mid air. There is nothing to grasp on, and everything, life, marriage, career, future, and all that is implied in what we call living, seems to exist on tenuous structures, a tower made of paper, and capable of falling apart any minute. I think this is our life everyday. This creeping anxiety, although we suppress it, or distract ourselves from it with music or shows or incense, this anxiety is always waiting to explode. And when it does, it might become depression, uncontrollable anger or loneliness, and all forms of neurotic breakdowns. If we could, from the very root, dissolve this sense uncertainty, then we could perhaps live with a background of absolute security. After all, security is what most of us seek. A sense of being safe, protected, certain. So, it is quite important to ask, what is the cause of our anxiety and uncertainty? How is one to live on a ground utterly immovable, like walking on earth, and therefore anxiety has no root to flower?

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In our current society, the talk of creation is endless. There is the creative work of the artist, the poet. There is innovation in the technological world, inventing more and more gadgets, weapons. There is also a creative living, in which one encounters the new, the fresh and surprising aspects of life. So one may go on endless adventures, toy with endless gadgets and entertainments, mountain beyond mountain, skill after skill, in pursuit of something new.

What do we mean by the new? Can the new be brought about? Is there a path, a practice, a routine which might give birth to the new? Because a sense of freshness is quite necessary in life. Psychologically, we are aware of the daily boredom and routine, of countless repetitions and walking the same paths over and over. This is how we work, how we train, how we study, how we do most things in life. So we are caught in this boredom. Therefore, creation is a quite important topic, but do we know what is the creative, what is the new? If we are caught in illusions, then we might be deceiving ourselves, caught in miseries, a prison of our own making without even being aware of our imprisonment.

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It was a sunny day. One rode a bicycle along an empty street. At the crossroad, one stopped to look at the sky, and the distant sounds of pigeons can be heard, as they circled in the sky in grand formation. The pattern of their flight was so harmonious, effortlessly expanding and contracting, yet maintaining an overall shape of togetherness. The scientists had tried to explain this flight pattern. Yet, without the scientific musings, or daily worries of work and life, this flight became something extraordinary. It was beauty beyond the words. It needed no description, and without the mind intruding, it was beauty. Then the birds, with great synchronization, settled on the side of a building top, and the distance between each bird was so exactly the same. That harmony, that space, was untouched by man.

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Do we know what love means? Have we questioned our assumptions of love? Have we observed what we do in daily life, and see if there is love in action? After all, life is action. It is a series of action, of doing, and if love is to be expressed in any way, it can only be through our action. We talk, argue, struggle, have sex, work, and so on. We dream about the tomorrow. We live according to the tomorrow. Of what I will accomplish; what I will gain; where I will finally arrive. It could be a dream job, a rare opportunity, an accomplishment in some religion, a person I love, or some material possessions I wish to have. In all our myriad patterns of action, is there love? And what is love anyways?

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In a remote corner of the country, there lived a stubborn old man. People who used to know him told many stories about him. In one story, he was very young, only a boy. Watermelons were harvested from a nearby village, and children gathered at a spot to eat them. Everyone wanted to have a taste. The boy, in order to have many for himself, bit off the top of the many slices, and no one was willing to eat them anymore. So he leisurely ate them all, and after a while, his stomach ached and fell ill for several days.

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Knowledge casts big shadows. Toward these shadows, we chase. To these shadows, we worship. To these shadows, we obey.

What is knowledge? And what is its place in life? Knowledge has become tremendously important to our life. Yet has it solved anything? Has it finally brought peace and happiness? Has it found the eternal and love? Has it found the way to live totally and harmoniously with everything? None of these questions have been answered by knowledge, yet we continue to rely on it to solve our many problems and crises. The schools of philosophy and mysticism have offered many solutions, and all of them are based on knowledge. It provides a framework, a series of practices, and all of them needs to be memorized, and then applied to life, and this application is supposed to dissolve our problems. Yet are problems not born again? We dissolve one and another come to the surface? If we observe life, it is quite obvious that problems continue to surface, and we might then conclude that there are infinite problems in life, and life is simply the process of solving problems, which are infinite. Is that so? What is the relationship between knowledge and problem? Can knowledge solve our problems at all?

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A traveler began a journey in the valley. She had lived in the valley for generations. It was said that a woman shall not leave her soil, travel alone to foreign lands, yet she did not listen. She heard the calling of the mountain top, and yearned every day of her life to attain to that height. So one day, she decided to leave everything behind, her family, her children, her house. She looked at the mountain top, covered with snow, majestic, solitary, imbued with power she could not name.

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Rarely are we faced with only sorrow. So much of our life is filled simply to escape this sorrow. The mother who lost her only son, stayed silent for days, and turned up to church one day, cried enormously, and finally believed in God. And in this religious business she went on, taking part in groups, preaching to others, trying to forgive her enemies. But has she dissolved her sorrow? Has she finally faced the fact that her son is really gone, finally gone, without any possibility of return, or has she put her hope in a heaven where her son lived on, or in a group where her loneliness can be subdued?

We are faced with this sorrow. Existence is ephemeral. It does not last. No matter it is our parents, our lovers, or our pets whom we meticulously take care of for years. In the very end, death is there, unwavering, immovable, and all we could do is to invent some fantasies to escape death. These fantasies are made by thought, and thought has made the most spectacular worlds of the afterlife, or reincarnation, but none of such things are really there. Thought knows this, yet unable to face its own mortality, it invents the eternal.

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What do we mean when we talk about life? Life has given us food, shelter, beautiful mountains and animals, as well as our many pleasurable or painful experiences. In life, there is the technology which occupies us, the sorrow of losing one's parent or child, the pain of facing loneliness, the daily boredom and routine, of going to work day after week after month after year. Then at the end of this life, we must face death. So this business of death is also part of life. We see the flowers die after a storm. We see the monkeys die after the wildfire burns through a forest. We also see our own cells die, shedded from our skin. And those we know die, due to disease, accident, and war fought on religious or political ideals. At the end of this journey we call life, we must also face death. We might believe in heaven, in the afterlife, or that our soul lives on in some other world, but this death is still coming, and if we are totally honest, we do not know what would happen. There are those who come back from what is called a near-death experience, and they claim they know what happens after death. Yet they have not died, for if they did they could not return to tell us all about it. Why are we so concerned about what happens after? What exactly is happening before death? Which also means, what is this life that we lead?

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