Sunday, July 04, 2010

Each One A Kiss Goodbye

"When you reach the broken promised land
Every dream slips through your hands 
And you'll know that it's too late to change your mind 
'Cause you've paid the price to come so far 
Just to wind up where you are 
And you're still just across the borderline."
                                                      --Ry Cooder

Generally speaking, borders are celebrated by their collapse but here we are talking about life and death. Generally speaking, people celebrate life and fear death. Celebrations create memories and fears create myth. We have all this culturally-spawned, subconscious myth about death, like cobwebs in a shuttered room. 

We think we are going to Heaven, or maybe even Hell. 

Religion does not help this sort of thinking at all; not one little bit. This sort of thinking is how religion stays in business.

The essentially immediate nature of spirituality argues against the stale construct of religion. Spirituality specifically and beneficially argues against dragging a sack full of habits across the borderline. 

We often hear that we are either experiencing or creating our own heavens and hells right here and now. While that is sophistry at its finest, the notion still has allure. It could be true, and if it is, what a wonderfully anarchistic world becomes available. Makes you want to chuck a brick through the nearest stained glass window.
"If a hundred people sleep and dream, each of them will experience a different world in his dream. Everyone’s dream might be said to be true, but it would be meaningless to ascertain that only one person’s dream was the true world and all others were fallacies. There is truth for each perceiver according to the karmic patterns conditioning his perceptions." ~ Kalu Rinpoche
There is also that lovely moon, you know? The one that seems to be up in the sky and seems to be reflected in every conceivable body of water. If you set out a hundred vases, filled with water, that one moon will be reflected one hundred times. Should we waste any time arguing about which is the true reflection?  

Oh, this all too brief reflection... this fragile, fleeting life that ends almost as soon as it begins! If someone lives one hundred years we think it is remarkable. Imagine that! 

The hundred years, dreams, and reflections all dissolve into themselves. In one way, appearances seem limitless but in another way they seem utterly devoid of any quality whatsoever. So, if you are splashing heaven and hell all over appearances maybe you are making a mistake in all directions.
"We live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality. We are that reality. When we understand this, we see that we are nothing. And being nothing, we are everything. That is all." ~ Kalu Rinpoche
There is that point in the empowerments, remember? When the deity who is masquerading as a lama who is masquerading as a deity giving an empowerment holds up a crystal. This is not a crystal as in all New Age-y crystal, although probably not a whole lot of people understand. You see that light has dissolved in the crystal but it is still immediately available. Where is the borderline?

We could say there is no clear demarcation between that which is reflected and its reflection. We could say there is no clear demarcation between the dream of life and the dream of death. You are going to argue with that, aren't you? You're going to say, "Well.. what about when you stop breathing? That's a pretty clear demarcation!" Sounds reasonable.

What is the difference between a mind that thinks it is breathing and a mind that thinks it has stopped breathing? 
"The greatest of all cemeteries, is the place where all our thoughts and emotions come to die." ~ Kalu Rinpoche
It is useful to stop cultivating any notion of possession as applied to any notion of borderlines.  The idea "Ah Ya! I am dead!" can really be a flood of suffering. Is there actually a permanent "you" who is going to possess anything? A permanent "you" who is going to walk on streets paved with gold, or boil in a cauldron of oil?

Every ant in the anthill knows his job. Every ant in the anthill expends all of his energy on the business of the anthill. No ant possesses the anthill. Do you ever watch them? They scurry back and forth, carrying things from one place to another. The things they carry seem quite meaningless to us: miniscule bits of nothing. Yet, this is where the whole of their energy is devoted: picking up, carrying, and putting down things they do not possess in an ownerless space.

If you want to see it that way. 

You could also see these ants as your own appearances, in which case the whole affair becomes without identity or characteristic. Maybe you are believing in a "you" and a "them," and you think you exist according to this belief, just as all one hundred of you believe in all one hundred of your dreams.

If you step on an ant, who has crossed what borderline?

Since organized religion and religious craziness seems devoted to giving you fear, and since fear is -- in its entirety -- predicated on hope, it seems counterproductive to hold out any hope at all, doesn't it? If I hold out any hope, am I contributing to your misery or offering potential alleviation of your misery?

If you want to come back here and do this all over again, look up and see the river of light.

"Up and down the Rio Grande
A thousand footprints in the sand
Reveal a secret no one can define
The river flows on like a breath
In between our life and death
Tell me who's the next to cross the borderline."

If, on the other hand, you want to stop breathing under the best possible circumstances then I don't know how that would be possible without faith in your teacher and without coming to know the nature of mind.

In either case, you are erasing borders, not crossing them.

When we are young, we practice living. When we fall asleep, we are thinking about tomorrow. As we get older, we practice dying. When we fall asleep, we know that there are no guarantees.

When any kiss could be the last kiss, how sweet and true are the kisses: each one a kiss goodbye.

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1 reader comments:

Jeanie said...

This is so beautifully written. Thank you so much.