This One Time, 29

This one time I was sitting zazen, listening to the noise inside and outside of my head, just letting it be noise. My old master once described the untrained mind as a puppy experiencing his first snow, barking with false aggression and jumping into the air trying to eat snowflakes. The sight is amusing and charming as hell. It fills us with joy. It is good to play, and to enjoy watching others play. But when it is time to work, to chop wood and carry water, sometimes we cannot afford the time.

There are big debates, some a thousand years old, over whether the aim of meditation is merely to be Buddha-like, or, instead, to train ourselves to be capable of the things Buddha is capable of, should the need arise. I see no difference. The Buddha is Buddha. When it is time, he will chop wood and carry water — whenever the world itself does not see to it that warmth and water come to him. It is good to be buddha-like, but we must also know the use of ax and bucket.

This time my buddha-mind was exhibiting its puppy-nature, and I sat and watched it play. My puppy-mind chased the shape of the world, snarling and barking for all it was worth. Here is the vision I had.

See the world as a flat plain, a desert. Imagine yourself as a fog composed of infinite droplets of yourself, drifting across the desert. As need arises, need for shelter, for water, for food, you take subtle cues from the terrain to decide which way to walk to find what we need. At the places where we make our decisions, the fog splits, and two fogs, each of which as much ourself as the other, diverge. And this happens ten times per day, or a thousand, or a million, as we explore the world looking for what we need to survive. Sometimes we cross paths with ourselves, the choices that we made having made no detectable difference to ourselves, having been so unimportant that we cannot even recall which choice we made. Then we recombine and continue on. But the rest of the time….

The desert is forced to warp itself, like a record album in the hot sun, to contain us all, to separate us from ourselves, to show us that sometimes there is no turning back, no way to backtrack to regain our other selves. We may meet our other selves in the future and recombine if we travel together long enough, like photons of the same frequency locking phases as they travel together. Like bosons forming a condensate as they cool down to their ground state. Entanglement reachieved, we continue onward reunified with ourselves.

Thus we navigate the impossible labyrinth of the (mostly) flat and (nearly) featureless desert and disperse ourselves into infinity.

But this world is not perfect. Are there no places where there are cracks where we can slip through and meet our other selves or find ourselves living in worlds to which our choices could never have brought us? Everywhere in the world there are earthquakes, there are storms and lightning and fire and volcanoes and fractures and barriers in the terrain. That is what it is like to live in a living world.

Is it possible that the world of time and space — a time and space so substanceful that its power is measured by casual creation and destruction of particles and forces in the foam of forever, that polarizes electromagnetic radiation, that compacts and rarifies as it twists around objects of mass, where every motion is a creation of distance in time and space, every motion a creation of more time and space like a scratch on skin raises a welt — is it possible that the world of time and space is as alive as the world we live in?

Is there weather? Are there quakes and storms? Do those scratches tickle or hurt?

And then I called my puppy-mind to me, to sit with me, and, as it seemed necessary, to count our breaths with me until the sun finished rising.


January 29, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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