It is all well and good to believe that you will know it when you find it, that it will be so obvious you could not miss it.
You’ve been down that road before, and on several occasions were certain that you’d found it in her face, or hers, in her smile, or her laugh, or one of their soft touches and caresses.
You were wrong each time, a facsimile at best, an avatar if you wish, so you are determined to be prepared this time, for there must be a this time you are certain.
You have read all the best books, consulted on the internet, careful to sort the wheat from the chaff, skimmed the cream of the offerings, and have practiced reading the tea leaves.
You dare not miss it so you maintain a high level of vigilance and a focus that is not easily interrupted, ready to spring, but know that it defies logic, that the mind is useless in its presence, and that it is the heart not the head that feels true love.
He’d been searching for ever, or so often seemed, for no-self, and he couldn’t fathom why it was so difficult to attain simple absence, nothing must be less than something, after all. He knew, like Sisyphus, he would continue to search until he succeeded, the gods of his soul decreed it and you don’t fuck with them. It was difficult recalling how much time had been wasted in the search for mirrors and when he found one, looked, there he was selfsame, self-filled, and he imagined, selfish. He took to always carrying a hand mirror and when he thought he might have found it he glanced at the polished surface in his hand and there he’d still be, his endless self older now, but there, very much still there. One day, frustration getting the better of him he wandered deep into a massive forest, hours later sitting on a fallen trunk, he reached for his mirror, gone. There was tree and sky and earth, that was all, as night enveloped everything, even his no-self.
I was looking for you, he said, and I was looking for myself she replied, and here we are and neither of us has succeeded in our quest, for I have not found myself, so you cannot find me. I shall stop looking for you, he said and perhaps you will appear. for I am ready if you choose to. I have found myself, finally, she replied, but how long have you been standing there and what were you doing since I last saw you?
If you want an answer do not ask a question – your answer cannot be mine nor can mine be yours. Instead, ask the stone wall, it has nothing to say and in its perfect silence all questions are asked and all answers are found.
A reflection on Case 41 of the Shobogenzo, Dogen’s True Dharma Eye
He was no longer sure quite where he found it, or whether it was talisman or just an amulet, but he didn’t believe the distinction really mattered at all. He carried it with him everywhere he went, was sure to put it ins his pocket each day. Many said it did nothing for him, brought him no better luck, no change in his circumstances, but he was quick to point out how much worse things might have been had he never found it.
It’s all a question of knowing where to look for one, but ask what would you do if you stumbled across it. It’s not a simple decision, nor should it be. The better question still is how you will know when you finally find it, for it is marked only deep within your heart.
When you look in the mirror do you hope to see yourself, and who is that face that stares back? If you turn out the light, are you still there in the mirror, or has the illusion of you disappeared? If you crack the mirror, do you feel the pain of the scar across your face? You cannot hope to see yourself, for if you did see you, you would then cease to be, and the mirror would stare and see nothing. You cannot search for the Buddha, for in looking you make finding impossible. All this looking and so very little being: so just be.