What I want to write about here is so big and so complex, yet so simple that I don’t know where to begin. I think I’ll start by saying that if you close your eyes, and sit quietly, bring your attention to your internal and away from the external…it is my hope that you will see – sooner rather than later – what I have seen. That we are all connected, that there is no us or them, and that we are all ONE!
A beautiful human being that I am blessed to know gave me a journal. It’s one of several copies of the same journal. Each has a piece she wrote at the beginning that explains how to utilize this journal. It’s far too involved to state the whole thing here, but her eloquent and wonderful idea boils down to having people pass these journals all over the world to friends near and far. Each person writing a few pages on their idea of our Oneness. Her idea is far more complex and beautiful that what I’ve just said, but that’s the part that is important here.
So, with this in mind, I’m going to make an attempt to write my draft here, and then put it in her book and get it on it’s way to another person. I’ve been dodging this honor for well over a year because every time I try to think of what I want to say, my mind spirals out of control. They say the mark of a great teacher is the capacity to express a deep teaching in a simple way, so that you understand it without an excess of explanation. Thich Nhat Hanh is a master of this. And so I will quote him here, and then go on to discuss the idea, thereby proving – I suppose – that I am not yet a great teacher.
No Mud, No Lotus.
When I first heard this, I loved it so much I bought the T-Shirt. Really.
I also first understood it to mean something loosely like “You can’t have good without bad.” And of course, this is exactly what it means. But it also means far more than this. Far more. And nothing more. See? It’s already beginning to spiral out of control with cryptic explanations that sound contradictory, but I assure you they are not.
A couple of years ago, after I had been practicing meditation for a year or so, I had an intellectual understanding of what you hear expressed in Buddhism as “Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form”. I understood this teaching of how there is no this, without that. How everything is in everything else, and yet it isn’t. Or how, as Thich Nhat Hanh would put it, when you look at a flower deeply you see that the flower is made up only of non-flower elements. The flower is not a flower. And yet it is a flower. If you broke it down, you couldn’t find the flower in the flower. But about this time, I was walking one day for exercise, which doubled as walking meditation for me, when out of nowhere and for no particular reason I can point to, I stopped dead in my tracks staring at the sky like a dummy.
I had been struck, quite suddenly, with a deep insight or understanding BEYOND the intellectual, of what this means. I can’t even begin to explain this. Better writers and authors than I have tried and not done a great job either. The best I’ve read so far, is Brad Warner in his new book “There Is No God, And He Is Always With You.”
I’ll try feebly, here, to express it…but not too hard. I simply can’t. I was walking, and practicing a nice teaching by TNH where he says to invite your ancestors (parents) to walk with you. My Dad was a jazz musician and when I would do this, I would listen for the jazz in nature. Not the regular sounds, the rhythmic sounds, but the irregular improvisational sounds. The jazz. The random dog barks. The wind gusting. The little kid screaming at her sibling. Once I picked up on the music of non-music, I would invite my dad to hold my hand and walk beside me. I was listening for this biological jazz, when it hit me!
Jazz music, or actually all music, was a great way of expressing Form Is Emptiness, Emptiness Is Form. Without the silence, notes would be noise. Without the notes, silence would be noise. Music is silence, silence is music! Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form.
The moment I made this connection, the rest happened. Like some kind of hollywood special effect, but that only my mind was aware of (not something I could actually see), it was suddenly like a ripple went out from a stone dropped in a still pool of water. As that ring expanded away from me, so did my clarity and understanding of No Mud, No Lotus. Of our TRUE interconnected nature.
It is my direct experience that we are all connected to each other, to everything, everywhere, all at once, infinitely. That’s the most direct way I can say it, and I couldn’t have said that without hours of discussion with my best Kalyanamitra (spiritual friend) Kayla. Without many dharma discussions in my Sangha. Without countless podcasts, books and study. And most recently without Brad Warners best book to date.
The bottom line: As I stated at the beginning, if you slow down, sit quietly, and turn your focus to your internal experience – MEDITATE – you will likely arrive at this same understanding at some point. You will likely see sooner or later that we can not afford, as a species, to continue living our lives as if our own endeavors are the only things that matter. As if we have unlimited resources. As if we do not need others to help us. As if, as if, as if. We simply must awaken to this reality of Interbeing….return to our own TRUE experience…and begin living our lives according to the most basic truth of our existence. That we are not “WE”….we are ONE. If we do that, there is still hope for this world, and I fully believe that we will.
I hope that at the very least, this writing – feeble as it may be – will encourage you to think about this. Encourage you to sit, maybe meditate, and to have faith, hope and love in the true nature of life as we know it. ONENESS.
With the deepest respect for the meaning of the word, I say to you with absolute conviction – Namaste!
I love you,