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Lions Roar : May 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2008 58 on its back. It has become a vehicle. The obstacles really have become gates. Ultimately, we go into the processes before the feelings get made, before an inquiry is needed. If you just lose yourself in a koan, for example, well, there is no problem because there’s no you, and whatever transformation goes on happens because the universe still operates well when there’s no you. Ultimately, we learn to be kind about the places the mind goes. The Pull of Beauty When you practice you can’t help but notice the beauty and kindness that appears in the world. The objects and people you encounter have a glow about them, a completeness. The practice becomes something that draws you toward life, rather than pushing you away from suffering. In this way you begin to notice that you can navigate by what you love. The experience of beauty is not manufactured; it is revealed. Focusing on the beautiful means hearing the voice of beauty and healing that is already going on—the thread that gets stronger and stronger as you go. This actually amounts to noticing what you really love rather than what consoles you for the night, a consolation that may be indistinguishable from suffering. The way Amy Winehouse sings it, “Didn’t get so much in class / but I know it don’t come in a shot glass,” might make you think for a moment that it probably does come in a shot glass. But what you really, really want is not Tanqueray, which has known charms, but a revelation that’s deeply disturbing and changes your world. To follow what you love means to be skeptical about the first thing you seem to want and also to allow yourself to re- ally want something. It’s possible to think that you have read the fine print on Buddhism, and that it means not having a self and not wanting stuff. But this hand is the Buddha’s hand, as a koan goes, and if this hand is the Buddha’s hand, it is going to pick up things that you want, touch people you want to touch. Noticing what you really want gets you out of being namby-pamby and pretending to be spiritual, which is another form of Tanqueray. Noticing what you really want might look like appreciation, as it in this forestry ranger’s account: A particular phrase leapt out at me for a koan: “the manifestation of one essential emptiness,” the key word being “manifesta- tion.” After reading this, everything really began to shift from subject and object (me and other) to us. I am a manifestation of the one essential emptiness, so are you, the redwoods, a pot of beans, a nail in the roadway, or ticks on a dog. Everything I encounter is a manifestation. There’s a lot happening around MAY 54-59.indd 58 MAY 54-59.indd 58 3/6/08 11:30:49 AM 3/6/08 11:30:49 AM