Autumnal full moon,
the tides slosh and foam
coming in (Basho)
The tides are excited with the Autumnal full moon. I can see it luminous light over the dancing waves coming in, so happy to arrive. The oceans rise and fall to the wand of this mistress. When she is full they rise, when she is low they fall. She pulls and releases, massaging the great body of water that sustains us. We are all sloshing and foaming under the sway of this luminous and loving mother.
I find that when I shop for a question to answer I pick the one that is most difficult and challenging., one that makes me ask for a heart felt answer. There are levels to this question, the surface level like what thing can I do, and the heart message that is more general, and it is the deeper question that is the carrier wave for the surface question.
So lets start with the deeper question; Who am I? And why do I suffer with the feeling of being in exile from my own life, always outside looking in, never being completely here. My life purpose on this level is to be absolutely totally here, not IN life but AS life.
The surface question is what can I do, what work can I do that will fulfill the deeper question. Well that one is still working its way out. My passion is writing, so looking in the rear view mirror I could have wanted to become a writer of some sort at the beginning instead of waiting until I was in my 60s and got a job writing for a newspaper. But the answer to the deeper question is never found by looking in the rear-view mirror.
Now at the age of 80 I no longer ask what my life purpose is. However I do ask how I can be of service using my passion to write. But what do I want to write, and who is writing? But asking the question can and will become doing the answer. Asking and doing become one. When there is no gap between the two, you are free from the pain of the question.
Here’s the truth I’ve found. If you keep unfolding the heart felt question Who am I? You will eventually come to ground zero where whatever you are doing is doing you. When I write I feel that the writing is writing me. This is the Zen of Life.
When you question is Who am I? You will eventually discover that You are what you are doing right now. That’s It. There is no external you looking in on life asking the question who am I looking in on life? This question creates the You that is outside looking in, hoping to find the answer inside, while you are standing outside of your own experience in the cold.
I have also found that when you become Zen, which I mean as being one with what you are doing, what you are doing will tell you what to do next, and that s your purpose, to do what life tells you to do, to be an obedient servant to Life itself, and life is One, so there is no separate of you from your life in this Zen moment. Every moment is a Zen moment where the many are the One, You, and You are the many.
Delight, then sorrow,
aboard the cormorant
fishing boat. (Basho)
Those who are not familiar with this fishing technique, cormorants, a diving bird, has a strap around its neck so it dives and catches a fish but can’t eat it, so the fisherman gets it.
Have you every dove for something and felt great delight when you were able to grasp it, and then something was wrong with it, or it was the wrong size, or didn’t look like it did in the store. You caught the fish but couldn’t swallow it. Desire is like that. The image we chase is never the same as the meal that is brought. The image of our desires shine and shimmer before our eyes. We anticipate the moment when we grasp the fish. The desire, if we every look at it as a feeling is a painful tension, a straining towards something ephemeral. What we really get when we get the fish is the end of the pain of desire. Buddha noticed this.
The object of our desire has no pleasure in it itself, the pleasure comes from the end of the desire. Pleasure is pain, and the relief from the pain is always temporary, and the sorrow soon returns, only abated by a new desire. The difference between the way the Buddha saw this and the way we see is that we see it in time and don’t connect the dots. We blame the pain of the desire not completely satisfied on someone or something. So we fall for the illusion that the next desire and conquest of it will be different. But it never is.
The Buddha sees the pleasure and pain of desire as One not two things separated by time. If you see that you are sticking yourself with a pin, you stop. The Seeing is the action of stopping. You don’t think: Oh, I’m sticking myself. Should I stop or not? No..the Seeing is the stopping of the pain of desire.
Buddhism dosn’t mean you don’t desire stuff, it just means you do it in a different way. You need something, you desire to get it, but you don’t invest in the getting because you don’t invest in the desire to fulfill you. You are already always full, so desiring more stuff will give you nothing. But you can still get the stuff you need. But now…but now the world conspires to give you what you need because you don’t chase it. The world now comes to you like the earth comes to Robin with the worms it needs.