Friday, July 30, 2010

As Much As You Can Relax

The last time I ever spoke to one of my teachers, he told me, "As much as you can, relax." Going through some papers today, I came upon a letter from him, dating from around the same period, where he wrote the same thing. 

Obviously, this seemed important, once upon a time.

As long as you remain entangled in something that gives you "identity," such as "I am a Buddhist," or "this is Samsara," or "I am a yogi," or "I am relaxing," realization will remain entirely foreign to you. 
Imputed status is the problem, not the solution. 
It is like digging a very long tunnel, not knowing that it will eventually end at an impenetrable wall. You are quite busy, shoveling great quantities of dirt, and expending all sorts of energy. You have a hopeful expectation that your effort will end in some reward, so every day, you are digging a little more. 

You are encouraging other aspects of your life to buy in,  urging yourself on, running around looking for tunnel coaches, and tunnel cheerleaders. You are soliciting advice about what sort of shovel to use, and reading up on dirt. Maybe you think you are in Stalag XVII or something, and you want to believe you are digging your way to freedom.

Every day you dig your tunnel, and every night it gets all filled back in again. Oh! It is like building Samye! 
"Attachment to the pathless path as a goal
ensures that the place of release remains obscure;
light and darkness, existence and nonexistence,
permanence and transience, cause and effect,
all eight, are congruent with boundless space
and whoever seeks the parameters of emptiness fails,
like a blind bird trying to reach the end of the sky:
what is ineluctable cannot be contrived by man,
and knowledge without purpose is endless."
So, Longchenpa wrote that, and in the auto-commentary, also wrote that practitioners of the gradual approaches are, "obsessed by attachment to the dogma that gives them identity." Specifically, he wrote:
"Personal identity is composed of concepts of arbitrary positive or negative attachment in dualistic perception; spiritual identity is concocted by imputing dogma to a field of absence, particularly the obscenity of clinging attachment to our various philosophical views, modes of meditation, behavior and spiritual goals."
I want to offer the opinion that if you are sitting around in this or that dharma center or racketeer temple, subscribing to corporate organization, acquiring all the books, and beating yourself senseless with projects, there is probably a ragged edge on your spirituality. Maybe, if you fearlessly look at yourself, you will even find that you have drowned your spirituality in religion's bottomless river.
I want to offer the suggestion that maybe it is time to climb out of the water, drag yourself up on the riverbank, and let the sun dry you off. Then you can sit under a tree or something, chewing on a blade of grass. You can even go fishing in that self-same river, using a line with no hook. Sooner or later, a fish will throw himself upon the bank, right at your feet. Then you will have a similarly situated friend with whom you can share your orisons.

So, I remember that when I heard and read my teacher's advice, I thought I should learn how to be relaxed. Learning how to relax can be very stressful, you know? So many things to think about. It happened that I exhausted myself relaxing. Then, when there was rather hopelessly nothing left to do, I can say that I  finally understood relaxation was naturally present all along, and all my activity had been for less than nothing.
So, this was very relaxing, you understand?

In my heart, I wish the same for you, and that is the only reason I share this little story.

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6 reader comments:

Marc said...

This one helped me a LOT.

Cliff said...

Brilliant! Thank you!

Padma Kadag said...

Too much "YO" in Yogi these days.Haha

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these reminders. This is a beautiful blog.

N.T. said...

I think I am falling in love with you.

I invite you to attend my teacher's July Webinar said...

Thank you. My lama is constantly reminding me of this. I'm glad you brought it up as well.