Snow, anxiety, Surangama Sutra, Soulful Illusion
When we look at the horizon, where does the sky stop and the world begin? Just as mountain and valley are one so are individual and the world that surrounds them. The deep identification with separateness we carry colors our experience of this world. The way we have formed this world, our relationships, our sense of belonging and place are all deeply rooted in struggle and separation in ways we are not always aware of. The walls we build between our hearts robs us of the joy of living. The tumultuous time we live in demands that we reclaim our capacity to enjoy, appreciate, and live in the wisdom of how we are always connected with life itself.
Dominant culture is almost exclusively mind-focused; our value as a person is too often measured by our "productivity" or the degree to which we can mentally interface the world. Technology further inundates our lives, and work becomes less manual labor and more intellectual labor. We have enough dystopian imagination to notice the rising barriers to entry for fair and just participation in the social world. To face the cacophony of jargon and intellectual conflation with firm resolve is to listen to the silence of our own inner knowing. We must trust the wisdom of the ancients. Before our time, when life moved at the pace of the seasons, humans observed natural phenomena as a means to connect our own life to the rhythm of the cosmic current expressing itself through all existence. In our age, we live with a consistent anxiety about whether our lives measure up to some arbitrary and external standard. The capacity for us as individuals to influence the world's activities are immense; we have enough examples of people standing in the face of grave injustice, often sacrificing their comfort and safety, to promote dignity and fairness. We are all capable of such action, at any moment. Every time we choose to uplift ourselves and our surroundings by applying practical compassion, we become a vehicle for the cosmos to do it's work. The tool to diffuse the frenetic mental confusion is primarily slowing down, noticing, and using discernment to ask ourselves as patterns of separateness arise: is this real, is this true, and who would I be without this?
People have been inclined to look inward and uncover the deeper nature of life as long as our minds have allowed it. Voices from the past echo to us, their distant heirs, of wisdom that is both beyond time and space, but also wordless and indestructible. We must be bold enough to listen, and let their wisdom speak through us and keep us from destroying ourselves. If we are to allow ourselves to give rise to a world based on wisdom and wholeness and shake up the dross of separateness and violence in this world, we must reach the depths of our own nature. We must contact that wordless wisdom in our own heart that is alluded to in the 1300 year old Chinese Buddhist the Surangama Sutra:
He then revealed the essential Bodhi which is neither "is" nor "is not," is beyond cause and condition, is not self as such and is independent of all forms and phenomena, that is the stage from which the path of words and speech is cut off and with which the mind's activities no longer connect; how can it be imagined and expressed in the conditioned language of this world?
Living in separateness is like holding a snowball with thick winter gloves on. We interact with the snow, but indirectly, and through concepts, ideas, or memories of previous experiences. The wisdom traditions, common to all the world, teach us to rely on our direct experience (or the testimony of someone with direct experience). But if our desire is to genuinely live within our world, and not just participate through screens, we must engage with our own body, mind, and senses. We are all fully equipped, although in differing conditions, to experience life. To take the gloves off is not to discard anything; our mortal body is not a hindrance or subservient to our "spiritual nature." We put those gloves on because we knew that being totally exposed and vulnerable to the elements is uncomfortable and not always safe. There was a wisdom that told us to create that covering for ourselves. But if we want to feel and appreciate the snow, as it is, and to experience our relationship with it, we must unwrap ourselves gradually. To hold ourselves apart from this world, and absolve ourselves from being and integral part, as though someone or something else might enter from beyond and save us is a Soulful Illusion (Soulful Illusion).