"Just as, of all trees, the balsam is foremost in terms of softness and pliancy, in the same way I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, is as soft & pliant as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, is soft & pliant." Gautama the Buddha (AN 1.47)
The virtues of flexibility are expounded by mystics, philosophers, and even scientists. To be adaptable is to be fluid, and to be fluid is to live in accordance with nature.
When a plant is alive, it is soft and flexible.
When it is dead, it becomes dry and brittle. Therefore, hard and rigid shall lead to death. Soft and gentle shall lead to life. -Lao Tzu
Soft and gentle is why we’re here today. The earth is filled with those who have adapted, those who have dropped their contrivances and acted as the situation demanded.
Kuei-shan asked Yun-yen
“What is the seat of enlightenment?”
“Freedom from artificiality.” -Kuei-Shan
When you are free from artificiality, you can see reality as it truly is. Without imposing a way, you can see the way. One of the largest artificial blocks to our understanding the world is certainty. We crave stability, predictability, and rigidity. Truly the sailor of the mind can’t help but lose their way.
“No man should escape our universities without knowing how little he knows” -J.R. Oppenheimer
But you only lose your way if you thought you had one to begin with. With nowhere to go, nothing to find, floating through knowledge becomes an adventure. Instead of docking yourself to driftwood, learn to sail the high seas. Continue to ask why, and continue to question everything. Nobel Laureate Perter Doherty writes that:
“Someone described good scientists as perpetual adolescents – they never really grow up.”
Be perpetually in awe, be perpetually in quiet reverence of the unknown. It is then that the adventure towards greater understanding begins, when the patterns of reality appear unobstructed to our human eyes. It is at this junction that the scientist and the mystic begin to converge. But there are two key points to this concurrence. First, Shunryu Suzuki writes:
“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.
You must be open to anything. Discernment and rationality are essential tools, but don’t use them sparingly, and don’t discount what you haven’t already assessed - apply discernment at every turn. Secondly, be incorruptible.
“Although rainbows appear in the sky, they do not make any difference to the sky; it is simply that the sky makes the appearance of rainbows possible. Phenomena adorn emptiness, but never corrupt it” Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Be adorned by opinions, be enraptured by theories, and be fully cognizant of the artificial. But see them as rainbows that can never stain your deeper being. See it all as an exalted display. To live is to build sandcastles on the beach - to transcend is to never forget about the tide.
It is as it is.
The song I wrote this to: Voyage Future - Secret Earth
A Good Dose of Dhamma - a dharma talk read by a wonderful Nun who posts videos of her reading spiritual teachings from various religions
Eckhart Tolle, pointing out the problem with precision