Who's Santa really pointing at?
Here we are on the brink of another year. We can use this opportunity to reflect over the past year, or to ponder the future. This can be beneficial, as long as our reflection does not turn into regret or resentment, and as long as our pondering does not turn to fear or worry. Whatever we do on the eve of 2013, we can do it with awareness. If we act from a state of knowing rather than nescience, we have a greater chance of doing it right, and even developing some wisdom.
Wisdom is needed in this world. Look at the sky ripped open, the still-hungry millions, the near-extinct animals, the war-mongering, and the general fear. We need wisdom to learn how to live peacefully & without ruining the planet. On New Year's Eve, many of us will get out of our heads on alcohol and/or drugs, shutting out the suffering world, and burying our own miseries beneath copious amounts of intoxicants. This, however, will simply leave us with a hangover on New Year's Day, and no deeper understanding of the world, including those we claim to love.
Love is needed in this world. Not love based on lust, nor love that demands that people act and say the things we want to see and hear, but real love that allows people to be themselves, whether straight or gay, hip or nerdy, gregarious or solitary, or whatever. In this kind of love, we are open to the suffering both in ourselves and others, and therefore more able to respond appropriately, helping where needed. How can we approach the world with this kind of love?
Love and wisdom are two sides of the same coin. According to Buddhist tradition, they are the two wings of enlightenment. If we can see the world with wisdom, we will also develop love for it, for we will see that it is us, and therefore love it as we love ourselves. If we can feel the world with love, we will also develop wisdom towards it, for we will feel its suffering, and with this wisdom know the way out of suffering. We are enlightened together, as one.
One way to see this unity is to simply look. Try out this following exercise and see if it's true for you. It's really easy to do, and what it reveals can start a quiet revolution of insight that releases love & wisdom into our lives. One point to remember as we go through it is that we accept what we see as it is right now, and not filtered through our intellect, which will surely distort the truth of this moment. Anyway, here it is:
• Point at the scene in front of you, taking note of the size, color, shape and opacity of an object you can see. Next, point to another object near to where you are, answering the following questions: how big is it? What color is it? What shape is it? Can you see through it, or is it opaque?
• Next, point at your own feet, asking and answering the same questions as above, before moving on to focus on your legs. Take a look at your torso, also taking the time to analyze its size, color, shape and solid nature.
• Now, point your finger at your face – or at least where others see your face. What do you see? How big is it? What color is it? Does it have a shape? Is it an opaque thing, or the exact opposite? Pointing at where others see my face, I see no such thing. Right here, right now, this finger is directed not at a face or head, but at...no thing whatsoever!
• All the different sized things on display are in stark contrast to what I see here: they appear in the absence of any such thing here. Ditto colors – there are no colors here other than the colors of the objects arising in awareness. The same is true of shape – the ‘no thing’ here has no shape, as only things have shape, and there’s no thing here to have a shape! As to opacity, all the opaque objects that can be seen right now occur in this invisible no thing: its absence is their being. What do you see when you point at your ‘face’?
This emptiness at the heart of our selves isn't merely a meaningless nothingness, however. It is full of the world, the scene before us. As this emptiness, we are full of the world, people, & animals that we see. Furthermore, there's no perceivable gap between this emptiness and those creatures - it's all one, undivided and together. We are each other, and we can see this simply by looking! The trick is to accept what we see, and then the challenge is to live from this vision, open to the world, the people, and the animals that we see. But, it's worth the effort, as it is living without separation, rivalry or hatred. And what could be more a more worthwhile New Year's resolution than that?
So, after the hangover's worn off, or the incense sticks have burnt out, we might take the time to look back at who's living this life, and see the emptiness at the heart of all this oh-so precious existence. Seeing this emptiness, we have the means to develop the wisdom mentioned above, for when everything - including the thing called 'me' - is seen to be empty, we see it in a completely different way. And love is no longer reserved for this self and those close to it, but spread out to all we meet.
Anyhow, wishing you all the love and wisdom in the world for the New Year. Have fun over the festive period, and on New Year's Day take a few moments to see where all this stuff ('the world') comes from. It's a real eye opener!