“All appearance is sheer art, beautiful beyond all enduring, appealing beyond all possibility of possession. It cannot be possessed but it is entirely accessible. The treasure which our being preserves for us is like an ever-present nectar; it is like an inexhaustible kingdom which is always open to us.” - Tarthang Tulku
The world is complete and absolute art. And this art exists in a space that is beyond permanence. It does not endure. And this art is a joy that is beyond possession. It cannot be held onto. And this art is present here and now. It is always accessible. And so, how do we enter into this vision of reality? If you ask Nan-ch’uan, he’ll say you’ve already missed the point.
Student: What is Zen?
Nan-ch’uan: Ordinary mind is Zen
Student: Should we try to get it?
Nan-ch’uan: As soon as you try you miss it
Approach Hsueh-Feng, and you’ll hear another cryptic line: “We are like someone immersed in water, who complains of nothing to drink”
The dilemma is then: how to tend to a feeling of lack, to a feeling that this is not sheer art, to a feeling of insecurity - when trying to fix it misses the point?
In other words: How must I train myself to see the world such that transcendent beauty is made immanent? To begin, it appears that such training is not related to thinking. One does not approach this beauty by reorganizing the pattern of one’s thoughts. As Carl Jung so aptly writes:
“The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong”
Oh fickle mind! Verily, beauty is not suspended between two extremes - it is the space within which the extremes manifest. But as our minds oscillates with such rapidity, it is easy to find oneself in a self-made prison of nonsense.
“We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality” Iris Murdoch
We escape our fantasy world through touch. Metaphorically, we touch the real. Actually, it is we who are touched. Sense objects make contact with our sense organs. Photons touch our retina, vibrating air particles touch our ear drum. The wind touches our skin. And so, Vipassana master Sunlun Vinaya writes that practice consists of being:
“Vigorously mindful of the awareness of touch”
If you remain only at the site of bare feeling, then you are grasping reality as it is.
It does not endure: there is an endless flux of sensations.
It cannot be grasped: any attempt to hold onto a sensation is a movement from the present to the past.
It is always accessible: feelings are ever-present.
It is in this way that you actualize the world as art. It is in this way that you embody William Blake’s famous poem.
“He who binds himself to a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise”
Every new sensation is a piece of art.
“The wind went over me saying
Why are you so distressed?
Oh I said I
Can’t seem to make
Round enough to last
But why the wind said
Should you be so distressed
As if anything here belonged to you
As if anything here were your concern” A.R. Ammons
As if anything here were less than miraculous.
It is as it is.
Go On Now
The European Space Agency showing us our marvellous universe
A song for adventure and renewal
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