The New and the Good.

“Waiting in the cloakroom of Reality. I am scared – like a shy adolescent at a party – to knock and, maybe, go in. I’d rather look at the coats and try and figure out who’s already inside.” -Pete Rawlings

We have acquired our human bodies in an interesting time. The world is not as simple as it once was, and the pressures of society are ever encroaching onto our sense of belonging. Our attempt at sense-making, of figuring out where we fit in the world - is no longer a personal ordeal. The world has imposed rather strong beliefs as to what is considered right and wrong. Overwhelmed by the pressure, it is no surprise that many of us wait in the cloakroom. But this is no way to live, and Gertrude Stein speaks of what will happen if we linger here too long.

“You’ll be old and you never lived, and you kind of feel silly to lie down and die and to never have lived, to have been a job chaser and never have lived”

And what a feeling that will be, to have lived but not fully. To have known that greatness, whatever that looks like for you, remained ever out of reach. We are lulled by the comfort and security of our norms. The comfort of knowing that culturally, there is right way to lead life. There is fear of losing track, of dropping out, of being alone and in charge.

“You exist as an idea in your mind” -Shunryu Suzuki

But, when you see yourself as merely an idea, your shapelessness can inspire you. If you are nothing more than a scent on the wind, then nothing is lost by going all the way.

“Once we’re thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost, but it’s only here that the new and the good begins” -Leo Tolstoy

Truly, the freshness of being is experienced in full force when you don’t know. When you set sail on the oceans of uncertainty, and when you let go of the known - you once again allow the world to reveal you to yourself.

“To carry the self forward and illuminate myriad dharmas is delusion. That myriad dharmas come forth and illuminate the self is enlightenment” -Dogen

Dogen, the first patriarch of the Soto Zen tradition, writes that enlightenment is to allow the world to touch you. When you are open to experience, the ‘myriad dharmas’ (the things of the world) will show you where you ought to be and what you ought to be doing. Yet, you must develop one thing in the meantime - discernment. In order to not be led astray, one must be cognizant of what Ursula K. Le Guin so plainly writes:

“To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness”

Don’t be overburdened, and don’t be afraid to get lost.

It is as it is.


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