In the exercise of our thinking faculty, let the past be dead. If we allow our thoughts, past, present and future, to link up in a series, we put ourselves under restraint. On the other hand, if we never let our mind attach to anything, we shall gain liberation.
~Hui Neng, from Journal of Chinese Philosophy Vol. 13 (article by David Loy)
Can we have a clear view on this planet? We start with the physical reality. If one lives in a city of any size our view will be impeded by structures, people, vehicles and bits of nature here and there. In the country less so. Not so many structures, not so many people—more nature. Always though, something greeting the eye that the mind will habitually interpret. Even if we removed everything from the Earth—every structure, person, tree etc. there will still be the line that exists between earth and sky that we call the horizon. We are heavily conditioned to thinking not observing; defining, analyzing, judging. Centuries of human experience produce layers of thought and belief that leave us performing in a repetitive manner.
The web tightens—more people, more judgment and beliefs that maintain suffering. Yet to see clearly no more or less is required. The phenomenal world is not relevant to clarity. What is relevant to clarity is, is it what you want, clarity? There is nothing required in the wanting. The wanting is always there. The deeper we dive the clearer this becomes. We hear it, in the stillness. Thoughts can spontaneously arise and dissipate without creating a ripple. It is what the mind/ego does with a thought that presents one with a situation often requiring more thought, more struggle, more confusion etc.
Clarity, seeing without impediment and the fact of impediment is a notion, a thought. And, we will not get rid of thoughts the same way we do not get rid of clouds or rain. We eventually realize though, that thoughts are not I. “I” pre-exists thought and will be, after thought.
We realize that it is an illusion, this thought that there is someone doing the thinking. And, “if there is no thinker, there is no such act (thinking).”
Clear view has nothing to do with thought. So to see clearly means really, to observe and listen deeply. How to ‘do’ this or how does this happen? Buddha said, to follow your breath—the inhale and the exhale. When we are focused on the breath we are not thinking.
Another little exercise: allow your hands to precede your mind. Offer your hands to this moment without a thought. Allow the hands to listen; sensing without putting anything into words. Thoughts may arise. They will also float away like bubbles of water, rising to the surface and pop they vanish replaced by another and another that all eventually, dissipate; return whence they came. It is just what happens.
Thoughts linked together become a story, it is in the linking, as David Loy suggests, that they become ‘meaningful’. Thoughts by themselves are quite innocent. It is we, who attaching to them, or attaching them to each other that we create a story that involves me. Me then can dialogue for hours sometimes, regarding this story, the result of being affected by these thoughts that we choose to focus on in such a way to achieve something for me personally. This by the way is okay, really okay. However, once we are aware of how we are caught in the illusion of a me, the story will be seen as arising from a pattern of thinking that has been recycled, oh so many times!
Next time you are with a friend, notice the story as it may evolve as you talk with each other. It may be easier to have this reflected to you. Ultimately you will notice your own story when it arises. Rest your hands on the table palm up and listen. What are you hearing? Not suggesting that stories are not okay. They are okay. They are the delicious way we relate our experiences. But they are an experience. An experience is temporary. When we are in the story there we are and not often aware of Truth, the eternal.
Hands are marvelous instruments like antennae they receive and at the same time are able to give. Lying upon a surface they appear to hold nothing and yet offer everything without a single movement or gesture. Accepting the nothingness that is you and at the same time giving everything. Be aware of your hands in greeting, in reassuring, in healing and as a means of conveying that goes beyond the ability of a word to describe. A fact about fingers; they are ‘more sensitive than the eyes—the fingertips have a large number of receptors responsible for sending messages to the brain.’ Fingers can be a first line of defense and also awakening. They awaken us to everything within our reach.
Imagination? or is everything reaching out to us? Reaching, stretching, wanting to be touched or finally awakening to the landscape as touch. No touching, no touch-er, just touch. The immaculate interplay of Life. Touching deeply we sense the convergence of rivers and oceans, sky and clouds, human hearts and breath in one moment that renders one speechless. Everything is at our fingertips. Nothing is beyond our grasp.
Tarot cards guide us to a deeper listening. They can be a step in the direction of Truth as all steps are. Rather than talking about an individual card, I invite you to choose a card. Some people like to spread the cards and then with the palm of their hand feel the card that calls to them. This would be an opportunity to allow your hands to lead you. Sit with your card that is a silent voice beckoning you to discover, to realize a deeper awareness of Self. Where within do all things converge? And the sense of time is lost to a knowing of only this moment. Every card in the deck will lead you to Truth. Where in your life are you being asked to take two steps to the left so that you might have a clear view? The cards have there mundane, practical aspect but they will follow you as you make a plunge into Self.