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June 09, 2018

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Sign on church in Missouri farmlands seen driving by
"If you want instant riches
Count your blessings"

Samadhi / Trance and Living on sunlight without food is not ordinary thing, it is extraordinary thing. It comes by following extraordinary path of Yogic wisdom not carnal wisdom.

I was out walking today in the hills. A sunny day with clear blue skies peppered by five hawks wheeling on the thermals above a green valley. Before me was a sea of green and blue with a splash of purple from thistles and foxgloves. A dead blackbird was not wasted.

There is an interesting koan about the way:-

Joshu asked Nansen, "What is the Way?"
"Ordinary mind is the Way," Nansen replied.
"Shall I try to seek after it?" Joshu asked.
"If you try for it, you will become separated from it," responded Nansen.
How can I know the Way unless I try for it?" persisted Joshu.
Nansen said, "The Way is not a matter of knowing or not knowing. Knowing is delusion; not knowing is confusion. When you have really reached the true Way beyond doubt, you will find it as vast and boundless as outer space. How can it be talked about on the level of right and wrong?"
With those words, Joshu came to a sudden realization.The wonder of life being in the everyday.

Ordinary mind being the mind free of grasping - free of beliefs, judgments and opinions.

I don't think knowing is delusion.
Or that we can't improve on what is.
We can definitely make personal progress and should. And having done that, we should help each other. We should teach a little harder, further, beyond what's convenient or easy. We are capable of more

Because as wonderful as everything is where we live, there is also a lot of harm being done in other places. And our being here might actually be at the cost of others we have never met who live and work under much worse conditions.

And we ourselves carry the weight of most of that. To look at the harm others are doing isn't enough. We have to see what we are doing, in ignorance, or with some lame excuses, ourselves.

So striving to understand ourselves, our place here and how to be better human beings is the only thing that carries lasting value for me.

Any teacher who claims there is nothing to strive for is a waste of time, a stagnant being justifying stagnation and accepting the wrongs around us with no personal responsibility to see harm, to understand it, and to do our part to eradicate it, first and foremost within ourselves.

Then we can truly enjoy the piece and beauty around us, knowing we honor that luxury by helping those who can't be here with us.

Ah! perhaps I shouldn't have muddied the waters with a koan. As a Zen teaching device they are not to be taken literally and really only have relevance as this one did for me when I came across it. Briefly, it was to do with identity – how the mind creates a separative self structure.

Here, this blog being about ordinary things highlights how our particular mind-sets craves the extraordinary and in so doing overlooks the everyday sublime (as Stephen Batchelor ably describes it in his book 'After Buddhism') Here he talks about how “ - - - we human animals who delight and revel in our *place, who crave security, certainty and consolation, the sublime is banished and forgotten. As a result, life is rendered opaque and flat”.

*'Place' is that which we are attached to, our conditioning, our identity

Ah! - again. Just read this in Brian's latest post on mindfulness - another take on knowing as being delusional perhaps.

"But if you can remember from time to time that each moment is fresh and new, maybe, just maybe, what you know will not get in the way of being open to what you don't know, which is always a larger field. Then a beginner's mind will be available at any moment you are open to it."

Hi Turan

You wrote

"Here, this blog being about ordinary things highlights how our particular mind-sets craves the extraordinary and in so doing overlooks the everyday sublime."

Truth.

We can find the extraordinary in ordinary things, and more. It just happens. And if we are open to it, we follow that humbly, we serve it.

In the repulsive rantings of a mentally ill and unwashed, smelly, homeless wanderer on the sidewalk, who had urinated on themselves, too imprisoned by their own mental torture even to ask for help, in them we can fall in love. And everything we can do to get them back to safety, back to their shelter, back to their group home, back to their own peers, that becomes our noble journey. In that moment we are defined by it. The others who walk away have already placed a value of zero upon themselves. Or so it appears to us. And we realize our own psychology is forcing us to see ourselves in that person, to realize the hard reality that whatever they are, at best, that is what we are and doing this for them is simply not neglecting our own care.

In the mundane is not only the entire creation and ourselves, but our noble purpose.

Doing 'good works' is to be commended and what one believes (or feel) is good rests with the provider's mind. If he/she feels they have done good then great but many who 'walk away' from a certain situation may be 'doing good' in other more less obvious ways. Either way, neither is a 'zero'.


But back to the post on ordinary things. Everyday life is such a ordinary, simple thing – only confused by 'extraordinary' minds full of information (knowledge) of how things should or ought to be. Our habit is often when seeing a person – perhaps even a creature or plant – is to see only the concept planted in our heads. Seeing the ordinary is to see what is and to act from that if appropriate. Living from the concept may result in (re)actions that reflect our conditioning – and may be quite inappropriate to the situation.

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