In my wandering stumbling way I’m going to try and describe what Dharma means. I speak from my own experience (and that is Dharma) and not from the books. I am not a Buddhist, but I practice the Dharma Trail as I find it. It’s a happy trail.
Practical Magic is a 20 year-old movie with N. Kidman and S. Bullock about witches in New England. that for me is a metaphor for getting you mojo back. When you are in a slump, when down and you feel what’s the use, take refuge in your Practical Magic.
Magic means a surprise that doesn’t fit our cause and effect map of reality. Practical means it is useful in our everyday life. You need to create a Practical Magic space of play in your life where the means and the end are One. Something you love doing that has no purpose. When you think there is a purpose, you are going to eventually become exhausted and depleted of energy, and you say what’s the use? I’m not getting anything out of this.
Practical Magin, referring to the movie as metaphor, was that the witches could not deny their nature. Their nature called them and they had to return to. use their magic to get out of a fix. The witches were like witch McGyvers. They used magic potions to get out of a fix.
The other dimension of the movie as I look into it, is the the “witches” were women who could operate of the material world—regardless of what people thought. The “witches” played with reality. Play is practical magic.
And you can play with your reality too. I used today’s talk to model Play real time as my talk. My talks are play. For me there are Practical Magic because I say things that inform me, that surprise me, like a rabbit out of a hat. Wow…where did that come from?
I love movies because they are Practical Magic. I find surprises in them, rabbits pulled out of a hat. Magic for magic is just entertainment that has no use. But Magic that is Practical has an undiscovered use as a side-effect. The Use of Practical Magic is like the unexpected side-effect of drugs, except in a positive way. Practical Magic has unintended side-effects. Life is the unintended side-effect of Practical Magic. Life is the unintended side-effect of play.
If life is the intended side-effect of play….you are not playing. The magic is not practical.
I didn’t get around to talking about Jesus and the Law directly, but the idea is there. I’m working on it. What we are talking about is how big the Culture Egg is, and how all encompassing it is. Each of us has an enculturated mind. We can’t escape it. Passed on by our parents, the direct emissary of Culture, we cannot escape it. Our parents have no control over it. They are Culture’s personification for the child, who by design imprint their world view. This is natures plan.
But Nature didn’t plan for Culture to be dissociated from Nature, from Being. Culture is a semantic language system that is an abstraction of the direct reality of Being, that is beyond language, beyond concept, beyond the filter or mediator of Culture. This is what make us human.
Culture stores the accumulated knowledge of humanity so we don’t have to start over in a cave when we are born. However, Culture takes on a life of its own. The further Culture gets from the ground of Being, the greater the suffering created by Culture. The Sound of Being is the Heart’s Intelligence that taps into the heart and intelligence of the Cosmos itself. Human culture demands that we are obedient it it as God. Culture becomes out God.
But now we are in conflict. Our heart connected to Divine Intelligence is in conflict with the intellect of Culture. Heart and mind are in conflict. We can see it everywhere, especially in religion. Don’t obey the flesh, obey God, religion says. Flesh is sinful. Be obedient to God who is outside of you.
But the Heart is who I am. The Heat is Intelligent, but we are commanded by Culture to obey its Laws. And here is where Jesus comes in as a model on how to drop out of Culture/Religion. You have to go against the grain; you have to go upstream of the river of culture. But you have to go alone. If you join a sub-culture, then you just got into another boat in Culture and you are not going anywhere.
The Culture Egg is a hologram of space/time where future holds the meaning of life. The illusion is that in future you can break out of the Culture Egg and be ffee. But Future is the creation of the Egg. Catch 22.
The Idea of Sin is a hook that does not pull us into God’s boat but into the Vicious Circle of Culture, karma and Sorrow.
My life story (since I’m 80 and have a bit of a story) is written in a decade after decade struggle to solve this question of sin. I was fortunate that my parents, namely my father, planted a strong seed of Unworthiness in me, a Sin Seed I had to get out. Like a deep weed, we spend our efforts pulling on the leaves, then the stem, but always the root seed remains to sprout again and again.
We never get to the root seed because that is the Source of Sin…and it is me. My very idea of me is this Idea of Sin that has been planted in me…but my parents who were the gardens of the culture that planted the seed in them. So I do not blame my parents, but I thank them….for if it had not been for the Seed of Sin I would not be free. Oh…Happy Fault.
We’re exploring the heavy weight of Sin (or the floating feeling of anxiety, that something is wrong with me and/or the world. As long as we are inside the Culture Egg we cannot find the cause and remove it. As Culture, as a microcosm of the macrocosm, I can’t find the cause external to me, for as Culture I am the Seed…but it has been planted in me. What is my face before my parents were born? But the blame is not on my parents because they two were just transplanting the Sin Seed in my innocent soil.
Any one who has a heartfelt longing to find this seed and pull it out, we discover the Crack in their Cosmic Egg. It will come as an Idea of Light, a revelation, a single Idea that drops into the dark cave of the mind that illuminates the whole landscape all at once. This Idea of Light can be small or large, a candle or a searchlight. The Enculturated Mind jerks to attention as if it had been confronted by death. And Light Seed has the power of death because it is death to one’s darkness in the Culture Egg that is lit by artificial light.
Once your Light Seed is planted,—if you nourish, palm it with your hands so the wind of darkness will not blow it out—more Light Seeds will come from outside the Culture Egg. The Light Seeds meld themselves together, creating a brighter light in the heart. Like a GPS Navigator you learn to follow its directions instead of the flat map in the Culture Mind.
The Light Seed directs you upstream and against the Sin Seed’s light, in the opposite direction given by the Culture Egg’s map. You are brave enough to travel alone.
Just as Theseus in the Labyrinth, you follow the thread of light out of the maize of Culture, leaving behind. your own idea of your self, the self conditioned by the Sin Seed. One goes, not so much against the river of Culture, but against the more powerful rive your own own conditioned inclinations. You begin to replace the First Responder of Culture with the First Responder of your own heart.
And this is why I ended up in Buddha Dharma. Here in this tradition I found my focus to be on my own Enculturated Mind instead of external causes. Mindfulness is the practice of making one’s subjective Idea of self objective. Awareness opens up a vast space in which the Culture Mind thinks and emotes, so you can just become aware of what you internalized Culture Egg is doing. Only in mindfulness are you free from the judgment and sin of Culture. If you can see without judgment your thoughts of being unworthy, you are not those thoughts…You are freedom itself…and in Mindfulness the Seed of Light blooms into a Lotus.
It is not easy to change our First Responder from mind/brain to heart/brain. The Culture Egg holds our mind hostage, conditioning it from birth, and it is the Knee Jerk First Responder to experience, registering everything as either something to eat or something that is gong to eat us. This is the Old Testament Judgmental God of Jehovah who punishes his disobedient children.
So it is not easy to change this first responder to Jesus or Heart as First Responder. One has to go against the Law of Culture. When free of Culture, we discover that the Law and the Heart are the same Father. “I and the Father are One,” said the Son of Man.
But in the Culture Egg it is a sin to say I and the Father are One. (Who do you think you are, Jesus Christ?) In the Culture Egg you and God are ontologically different, separated by a chasm only a god can leap. All. you can to is try your best to love God with all your heart….
Oh, wait….that is a double-binding commandment. Love is spontaneous, You can’t try to love, to be spontaneous. The only way to live in the Culture Egg is as a hypocrite.
I find that the more I crack into this subject of breaking out, the more energy comes to my talk and they take me where I cannot predict. That is what it’s like to be outside the Culture Egg: you can’t predict the future. You have no control over the future. When you are outside the Culture Egg Life does you. Inside the Egg you do life, but who is you? The You that is inside the Egg is a mini-Egg, a mini Culture Egg. Like your smart phone (it is the internet and the internet is it) , you are the culture and the culture is you. Breaking out is hard to do.
What keeps us in the Culture Egg but Shame and Guilt that begins when we are toddlers exploring the world. We have just broken out of the Womb Egg and now we are exploring our new world womb. But Culture smacks our hand then we follow our drive to explore. DON’T TOUCH THAT! We begin to feel guilty for exploring. And most of all we fear being abandoned by the Mother if we explore and attract her anger. Shame and guilt are instilled in us, and we always feel something is missing….An emptiness that must be filled, we become consumers and buy that which is promised to fulfill us. But it never does.
We break out of the Culture Egg when extraordinary events call us out. Just heard a story from a local mother of an Uber driver in LV who answered the Call of the Wild and blew past the cops to pick up the wounded and ferry them to hospitals, calling in other Uber drivers—like the small boats in England who rescued the stranded troops from Dunkirk—to become ambulances, since the city didn’t have enough. We are all greater than we think we are, but we don’t know it until we DO our greatness, when the Culture Egg breaks open and we are called upon by the emergency of the moment.
What takes over in those moments? We don’t know. The moment does us. In the Culture Egg we are conditioned to believe we are individual doers, that we have to strive on personal will, but that will always is blunted by the Will of the Culture Egg, which is like the Las Vega casino; The House always wins.
Culture keeps our eyes on just the facts, and facts seen from inside the eggs always create a logical tape loop. The inside of the Egg has no logical end. Everything goes in a circle inside like a Dragon eating its tale. We all lose in the end as long as we stay within the Culture Egg.