Seeing that which is

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

There once was the one with many faces. Many people had seen the one, but only through the faces. They had seen happiness, courage, solitude, discipline, and many other faces. The people thought these faces were tremendous. The faces were articulate, exquisite, brimming with an inexplicable energy, and they had accomplished incredible deeds in the world. They had scaled the highest mountains, crossed the enormous ocean, conquered entire kingdoms, built the most complicated architecture. To these faces, the people wrote many tales. The tale of the happy man. The story of a lonesome warrior. The adventure of a fearless pirate. The ascent of a just ruler. Soon, the tales were gathered into books, collections, and they were studied. People's children imitated these faces, or the tales of these faces, and those who imitated the best were venerated. They were deemed the living expression of the one with many faces.

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Two friends gathered around the campfire. The night had encompassed everything. The moon is full, and its light seemed quite bright in the forest around them. There were the occasional ruffling coming from the animals hiding in the darkness, but the surrounding had become quiet.

“Let me tell you a story. I have quite a good one to share.” One of them, a bright young lady, who was a traveler, with quite a serious expression on her face, began to talk between them.

“Alright, let's hear it.” Spoke the other, who was a professor, quite accomplished in the academic world at his young age. He came out camping with the traveler for a change of scenery from the big city.

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For as long as human beings can remember, there has been this search for something greater. The ancients might call it God, the Atman, the Dao, or mystify it into tales of Genesis, stories of Creation. But, since we have existed, this yearning for that something eternal, true, and beautiful has never ceased. When we are born to this world, we must wonder, by seeing the stars, the distant snow-capped mountains, the rivers and oceans that disappear into the horizon, what is this all about? Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? There are the plants and animals we kill and eat, the trees we cut and burn and make into some of the most ornate structures. We have built enormous cathedrals, places of worship, temples. We have told tales of great Gods, of heaven and hell, of the great struggle between good and evil. We have written enormous amounts of texts, on every subjects that we could imagine. Human's search for this greater meaning went into science, the exploration of the Moon and Mars, the observation of distant galaxies, and the theories of the smallest particles imaginable by the mind.

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“Could you tell me a story before bed?” The little girl asked the Grandmother.

“Of course, my dear. Now get in bed, put on the covers, and please don't get a cold at night. Are you ready?”

“Yes.”

“The story goes like this. Once upon a time, there was a fox in the mountain. The fox was chasing its tail. The fox thought its tail was separate from itself, so it kept chasing and chasing, but never really catching it. So on and on the fox chased its tail, wearing itself out slowly.”

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A writer went up the mountain to seek the wise patriarch.

“Sir, I want to write a story.”

“Why?”

“Because I want people to know what I think. I have many thoughts about the world.”

“So go and write. Why have you come here?”

“It is very difficult to write. I don't seem to have words to it. My ideas are grand, and I am afraid that people won't read it.”

“It is so. Maybe no one will read your story.”

“That is a depressing thought. I want people to read it. But then I try to please them, write things they like. Then it wouldn't be my story.”

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Our relationship with nature is very easy to understand. Without nature, we cannot survive. Without water and food, which must come from nature, we cannot debate in politics, produce electronics, watch videos and listen to music. The human society has become incredibly dependent on electricity, and where does electricity come from? It must come from the energy of nature: the sun, the wind, the rivers, and the fossil fuels which took millions of years to form. Our incredible advance in technology, the steam machines, the computers, the planes and ships, are all entirely dependent on nature: the fuels, the raw materials used to produce and manufacture, and the electricity which we convert from the energy of nature.

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It is a cool morning. The breezes smooth over the skin. One can hear the chattering of people from a distance. The birds are singing, enjoying the coolness so rare in this time of the year. Every morning the things of nature become afresh, unburdened with the many yesterdays. For human beings, however, the worries, anxieties, hatred, success, the countless memories of things one has been through, remain to direct one's life.

Memory is tremendously important to us. Morality is memory. We were educated, from a very young age, to follow certain codes, principles. Right following results in rewards, and deviations result in punishments. There are many forms of rewards and punishments we have invented: money, fame, power, pain, pleasure, and so on. Through this process of reward and punishment, we learned to be moral. Some of our so called moralistic actions are so conditioned that we do not realize they are learned, but seem to believe they have always been there. Law is memory. It must be written down on paper, and referenced over and over. Our relationship with each other is based on memory. I might like someone because they are rich, powerful, honest, modest, and all these impressions I can only have through memory. If I have only met a person for the very first time, I have very little impressions. So, whatever descriptions, characterizations we have of others are totally based on memory.

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There are many doors along the hallway. The hallway seems to have no ends. One might try to walk endlessly along, but no one has ever found the end of it. The hallway is of course full of people, who are entering and exiting the many doors along it. The doors are also countless. There are those who do not care about the hallway at all, and are determined to enter through the right doors. There are those quite confused about this whole business of entering and exiting, and walk along aimlessly, seemingly deciding what to do. What is even more strange is that no one knows how they first came to this hallway at all. All they could remember is the hallway, and the many doors along.

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Prejudice seems to be all over the world. It pervades the air. In any culture, any tradition, any country, within a family, a school, a company, a village, prejudice is there. There is the prejudice toward one's skin, place of birth, appearance, ways of talking, tradition, and so on. And in what is more commonly known now, prejudice toward sexuality, gender, age, ability, race, ethnic origin, and so on. And if one is sensitive to the violence that prejudice has brought, the animosity, war, hurt that is the product of prejudice, and maybe one has also gone through it, experienced it, and these are actually happening everyday, then one must inevitably ask, how can prejudice come to an end?

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It is hot outside. The sun brazes over the concrete and glasses, and made everything bright and burning. One who is used to living in the city might not pay much attention, but if someone were new to all the traffic and lights and the burning temperature coming from the ground, they might get overwhelmed quite quickly. There are some trees outside, under which the shadow provides the few sanctuaries from overexposure. Inside, the air conditioning is not too intense, and a few lone customers sit at separate tables, occupied by their own business on the smartphones. Pop music is playing, and this whole place seems dead, without any energy, as if an overheat dog was about to draw its last breath on the roadside.

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