The reflection that we claim to see in the so-called "Mirror of self," AKA consciousness or our interpretations of experiences... self remembering it's experience... self projecting and gaming out its experience... self in the melodrama, lost in thought speculation about its current experience... is “Selfing.” It’s thought that appears to feel like it's a person meeting reality from “Inside our head,” assuming that it’s separate from what appears… seems… we imagined… to be “Outside of us.” Error... Error... Error! Things are very definitely not as they appear in the so-called mirror of self, yet nor are they otherwise. With Zazen, we come to experience the Reality of Self and ”Not-self,” at the exact same moment.
When sitting or sleeping, have you ever had the experience of observing yourself from outside of your body? We could ask, what is It that’s having that experience? Do you have the ability to notice that distance, time, space, place, personality, persona, ego imaging and how it’s narrating its own unique identity and experience can temporarily drop out? Is it like watching a temporary wave-like existence, riding on the Ocean of so-called "self?" Those experiences alone could tell us everything we need to know. We’re quite obviously more than bone, blood and skin. What is That? Sit, practice, experience, and notice what’s actually happening, not what the ego identity is artificially inserting to experience of Reality, because it’s making the assumption we can’t handle the truth.
Now could be a good moment to point to the relevance of the Heart of Perfect Wisdom sutra. If we take the time to explore this experience from its perspective, we could understand the section of the Hanna Shin Gyo… the Heart of Perfect Wisdom sutra where it reads… “The Bodhisattvas depend on the Heart of Wisdom that has lead to the other shore (meaning direct personal experience), and as a result experience no hindrance of mind. Without any hindrance, no fears exist. Far beyond upside down views at last, This enlightened mind we call Nirvana”. In the dedication after the Heart of Perfect Wisdom Sutra it’s stated… “Pure Awareness pervades the whole Universe, revealing this Self, right here, right now. Within this practice, let us realize and unite with this infinitely compassionate Universal Loving Presence.” These words are describing an experience of Reality that we could notice. It’s not suggesting an allegory, hypothetical scenario, theory or philosophy.
Though many refer to this as looking into the "Mirror of self’s experience," it could be more helpful to describe it for what is actually happening. We‘re usually looking into the mirror of a special type of virtual reality, because the mind... ego... is labeling, defining and giving everything and every thing all the meaning it has. You thought map-quest was horrible for directions, by order of magnitude this is way worse. Just pause. Temporarily remove the blinders of the horse of self that's trotting or running through your life off, through the practice of Zen meditation. Instantly we'll see we're running a race that not only can it not be won, it wasn't meant to be. It's meant to induce suffering... with common symptoms that are some version of restlessness, irritability, disconnection, dissatisfaction and discontent. Why would the mind do that? Because the only way the mind can see itself is through suffering. It can’t see itself reflected, when things are going awesome. When things are awesome, things are seamless. The more suffering… AKA anxiety, worry, depression, resentment, frustration, greed, hatred, delusion, the bigger the image of suffering reflected in the mirror, the more solid and real the ego thinks of itself.
This influences us to seek pacifiers from the outside, to address turbulence inside. That's a lot like losing keys in your house, but you go outside and look for them under a street lamp. We’re being misled by the mind… intentionally. If that wasn’t the case, why is it that every time we thing “Okay, I finally got what I wanted,” we end up wanting or “Needing,“ one more thing to think and feel “Satisfied.” The need for “Perfect satisfaction,” can be an expression of addiction. When’s the last time we met a happy perfectionist, within ourself or others?
We could be within our own home and so-called "Turn on," the inward light, without having to go outside for the fixes of drugs, food, approval-seeking, sex (as opposed to making love), perfect bodies, perfect lives, more social-media likes, money, power, property, prestige, chasing conspiracy theories of the life we’re supposed to have, and other aspects of what I sometimes call "Fashion-plate," life. They’re ego sandwich’s with a bunch of empty calories, and no physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual nutritional value. In fact those activities drain, and dull our natural vibrance. The net result is the sense of not being fulfilled.
This is the value and power of Zazen. The inward projector... the seeker... the one that thinks of itself as the perpetually "Broken person," or "Damaged goods..." we can use whatever terminology we want... is blocked... dimmed... placed on vacation… temporarily turned off... put into healthy perspective... seen through... realized to be an illusion... long enough for us to catch on and realize the Reality... the marketing campaign very definitely isn't coming from Reality… it’s coming from that special kind of virtual reality mentioned earlier. Put more succinctly, from this expression of our shared culture... "Neo... You've been living in a dream world. I am attempting to help you open your eyes to the reality."
In psychology, one of the notable pointers that Dr. Albert Ellis pointed out in "Rational Emotive Therapy," is that what's slippery about people is our dependency on thought, that seem to be our own, but in point of fact 90% of the time aren't. He used to talk about the fact that ego can think about it's own thinking. And in fact it can think about thinking about thinking about thinking about thinking about its thinking! It's quite an echo hall of mirrors the mind can create; so that it can have an impression of itself. Needless to say we can drive ourselves very crazy. And then here comes Zen... the Buddha... Upanishads... and the point of practice come in...
"The eye cannot see it; mind cannot grasp it. The deathless Self has neither caste nor race, Neither eyes nor ears nor hands nor feet. Sages say this Self is infinite in the great And in the small, everlasting and changeless, The source of life. As the web issues out of the spider And is withdrawn, as plants sprout from the earth, As hair grows from the body, even so, The sages say, this universe springs from The deathless Self, the source of life. (Mundaka 1.1.6-7)"
"All composite things
are like a dream…
a bubble and a shadow…
are like a dew drop
and a flash of lightning…
and thus they are to be regarded.
Clearly see in this way of the fleeting world: As a star at dawn,... a bubble in a stream,... A dewdrop, a flash of lightning... in a summer cloud, ...A flickering lamp, a phantom, ...and a dream." 一The Diamond Sutra
“Every war and every conflict
between human beings has happened
because of some disagreement about names.
It is such an unnecessary foolishness,
because just beyond the arguing
there is a long table of companionship
set and waiting for us to sit down.
What is praised is one, so the praise is one too,
many jugs being poured into a huge basin.
All religions, all this singing, one song.
The differences are just illusion and vanity.
Sunlight looks a little different
on this wall than it does on that wall
and a lot different on this other one,
but it is still the same light.
We have borrowed these clothes,
these time-and-space personalities,
from a light, and when we praise,
we are pouring them back in.”
"The Kingdom of Heaven is within You."
一Jesus of Nazareth
...or even enshrined in the declaration of (Inter)dependence... We hold these truths to be self evident... all people are created equally in the sunlight of creation.
Though these are examples of very fine words... that are pointing towards something priceless... we still behaviorally don't arrive *HERE!*, evidenced by the suffering we habitually and routinely inflict upon each other and ourselves. We're not far removed from cave dwellers. To notice and realize the reality, we must must must must have a practice to confirm It for our authentic self... rather than the avatar impersonating our self.
When we are no longer pushed... pulled... manipulated... and cajoled by the mirages, hallucinations and our coveted opinions and advice we like to give to others yet never allow our true self to manifest... we can then finally really be alive... step out of the useless patterns of suffering... and go straight on! Please practice consistently... go to the very bottom... to the source as the Source... and verify It. Then we could be fully whole and wholly free to love and live well. Please remove the scales and scars that have grown over the The eyes. Awaken!
一We Are the Practice Itself