Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Letter to A Friend

Dear --------:

Shortly after my immaculate teacher hastened me out into the world, I received a letter from him. “We could write pages and pages to one another,” he suggested. “But I do not see the use. What you understand, I understand and what I understand, you understand. I am writing you now only for sentimental reasons.”

When I first read those words, I missed him terribly and I was despondent, but now that a few decades have leaked away, the shining beauty of those words immediately reminds me of his gentle kindness and always brings comfort to my crazy heart. Although my poor words to you lack any such beneficial quality, I nevertheless pray that in the future this letter will bring you at least some small satisfaction, when you recall the high esteem in which I hold you.

There are mountains hereabouts, and a painter may stay some distance from such mountains to produce his work. We judge him in any one of several ways. We can compare his work to the mountain we see, and reckon it a good likeness. We can compare his work to what we imagine, and thus employ him to replace the mountain we might otherwise know. We can say that he captures the mountain, or evokes the mountain, but we can never appropriately say that he has reproduced the mountain. The mountain, after all, reproduces itself.

It is considered a downfall to teach emptiness to a person whose mind is not prepared to accept emptiness. Yet, since I am incapable of teaching anything to anybody, and since your mind is like the ocean that accepts everything, I do not think we need enter the clumsy dance of benefit and harm if we merely discuss emptiness the way our painter paints mountains.

Some people---and I most assuredly do not refer to you---believe without any experiential foundation that their minds are empty, that every action is perfect, and that nothing whatsoever needs to be done. Such people rely on a subjective decision, or a belief in the authority of past status, or a passive sense of “thus,” as the humorously inferior compound delusion of meditation might otherwise persuade us is some sort of goal. You can always recognize this sickness. It is endemic in the monasteries, temples, and the horrible meditation centers: vacantly grinning, enigmatically engaged, idiosyncratic ninnies, blind to their own-face, with emotions as agitated as bats in a barn fire.

You can say whatever you like to these fools, and they will smile knowingly, and call you wise, but what they really do is invite you into a tacit pact. They will continue to call you wise only for as long as you ignore their utter lack of understanding. The more skillfully you enable their illusions, the greater will be your reward of wonderfully spoken sentiments and slavish devotion. These gliding red ghosts will ensnare and imprison you with their flattering service. If you permit yourself to depend upon them, you will come to ruin.

Must I warn you, my precious friend?

Every day, it is useful to ask, “Who am I?” Every day, it is useful to ask, “What is this?” Some people, while sleeping, smell smoke and immediately awaken. Others simply continue sleeping and burn to death.

What is this mountain our painter paints? Where does it reside? Is the mountain earth, or rocks, or trees? What of the kinds of earth, or of the waters within; the several minerals, or the leaves on the trees? What of the fish, the insects, the mammals, the birds, or the spirits? Is the mountain juxtaposition between earth and sky? Is it upside down or right side up? What of the mountain, the eyes of the painter, his painting of the mountain, and our own eyes, beholding all of these?

Yes, the mountains are so beautiful today, my love. To an ant, a pile of horse shit is a mountain. To a dung beetle, it is home. How I longed for a home in the mountains, together with you. How astonishing, in the midst of a dream, to smell the smoke of burning mountains.

Anything can happen in basic space. A painter we believe in makes it so. Let there be a lady who is basic space and identical with ordinary mind that arises dynamically there from, and shines pervasively. You can believe in her if you like. Let there be ladies, and practitioners, and elements, and mountains. How astonishing, in the midst of a dream, to rub your eyes and see colorful stars.

You led me through your empty house and walked me to your developing ground. Your dress was torn, your manner was lonely, and you climbed into the top of a tree. As if negligently sleeping, you reached out as sleeping lovers do, and I reached out for you. These bubbles have bubbles, these dreams have dreams: these rivers, and dams, and dikes, and locks we build from this ocean, and earth, and sky by mistakenly investing one endlessly replicating illusion in another endlessly replicating illusion.

I am the King of Pretenders and you are Queen of the Matrix. Shyly, you sit at my left, but the pearl upon your brow betrays your slightest gesture. From where is the arrow released and to where does it go? What do we seize, and what do we bind? All pretenses dissolve in space, and space in union with space is the myriad pretense of wisdom.

Is this arrow long life, or a support for divination? I divine that life, however long, is brief and insubstantial and there is no time for hesitation. If you wish to be a goddess, you are already a goddess, but if some process enlightenment for the benefit of others is your wish then the arrow has already missed its mark. How astonishing, in the midst of a dream, to disregard authentic presence, differentiate omniscience, and believe that space can be injured.

I do not know why we met, or why we communicate. I do not think there needs to be a reason. I could write like this to you forever, but when I point at the moon, I do not intend that you look only at my finger. Although it seems that I have used many words, I have actually used only two words.

This life.

A woman like you will understand.

With assurances of continuous prayers for your happiness, I sign the name Tenpa.

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