Sunday, April 21, 2013

DON’T LET YOUR LIGHT GO OUT

Tendai is a Japanese philosophical school of Mahayana Buddhism, a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school.

A student of Tendai came to the Zen abode of Gasan Jōseki (1275-1365) [pictured left], a Japanese Sōtō Zen  master, as a pupil. When the pupil was departing a few years later, Gasan warned him: ‘Studying the truth speculatively is useful as a way of collecting preaching material. But remember that unless you meditate constantly your light of truth may go out.’

‘“What is truth?” [Pontius] Pilate asked’ (Jn 18:38). Well, as I see it, truth is reality---that is, what is. We can read and study all we like, but we will never find truth in a book, not even in a so-called holy book. Truth is all around us, and inside us. It is nothing less than the reality of life unfolding from one moment to the next. Strange, isn’t it? Organized religion of all sorts will try to get you to believe that truth can only be found in one place, and not another, or in one person, and not others, or only on some supposed ‘higher’ plane of being---as if there were such a thing---but that is not the case. Even The Bible makes it clear that the life of God is 'the light of all people' (Jn 1:4). That includes you and me---as well as all others. The 'life of God'---that is a metaphor---is your life, and my life ... right now!

Imagine a sponge in a bathtub filled with water. The sponge is in the water, and the water is in, and all throughout, the sponge as well. Now hear this---you are that sponge. (I mean that in the nicest possible way.) We are immersed in truth at all times---and don't let anyone tell you that is not the case, or that it is more complicated than what I've described.

Yes, every one of us has direct and immediate access to truth at all times, for we are part and parcel of truth. Call it truth, reality, Light, or God, if you will. The word we use to describe it is not that important. What is important is that we maintain our conscious awareness of life as it progressively unfolds.

Gasan referred to meditation, saying that unless we meditate constantly our light of truth may go out. The best sort of meditation is mindfulness, for it is a direct engagement with life itself as it unfolds from moment to moment. Other forms of meditation, usually involving intense concentration of some sort, are more of an escape or retreat from life. No, living mindfully is the way to go.

In a very real and profound sense, the light of truth can never go out. Life, which consists of living things living out their livingness from one moment to the next, waxes and wanes, and constantly changes form. Individuations---call them emanations or manifestations, if you like---of life come and go, even vanish from view, but life itself goes on.

How terribly sad it is that so many people---including a great number of so-called religious people---are not consciously aware of truth (life/reality/light) as it unfolds from moment to moment. Organized religion, in so many ways, is a barrier and an impediment to our conscious recognition and awareness of life/truth/reality, for it puts all sorts of obstacles in the way---especially beliefs.

Don’t let the light of truth ‘die’ on you. Don’t let your light go out---for you are the light of truth, so let that light shine in and as you!


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