It happens every day, when I arise from the cushion and look, I see myself there. If you look, you say you see me as well. It will happen one day that when I arise from the cushion and look I will not see myself. If you look, you will say you see me, and I will nod in agreement. Each day when I see myself, I know that it is I who I am seeing. But each day I see an illusion, masquerading as I, a delusion, and I see you seeing me, a delusion. Each day you see me, you see a delusion, but a different delusion. Consider how strange this is, for on the day I do not see myself I see no delusion, but you see me and see a delusion, but I do not see you, for there is no me to see you, and just then I am free of delusion.
A reflection on Case 94 of the Blue Cliff Record (碧巌録, Hekiganroku)
Yesterday is but a shadow and tomorrow an illusion. Do not wallow in the mud of attempted memory, do not sink in the mire of deluded anticipation. Stop, listen to the sun and the moon sing of the Dharma, hear the silence it brings for you are alive in this moment, and there is no other moment in which you can live.
A reflection on Case 3 of the Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku 碧巌録)
There is no Houdini today, no master of escapology, only sleight of hand that cannot provide a release from our self- made shackles, for we have failed to learn the secrets that might have saved us. We were stubborn, figured that we could solve the problem later, read a book, looked to a new master but those new masters have only perfected the art of illusion and that was our delusion, that we could magically escape from the prison, the ecological and natural prison that we have created for ourselves
I spend considerable time thinking about what it is that I am, what is I, whether Descartes’ God or Spinoza’s could possibly exist, or must if I can have meaning beyond self-reflection, needing a godly mirror, and image reflected. Cogito, on what basis can I draw that conclusion what logical proof, carefully constructed will not fall under the weight of the axiom, cogito cogito but of what? Keys that spit words that fade under a misplaced finger, she caught in the web twisting, unable to pull free, staring at an approaching holiday of praying forgiveness Vidui, as though to posit God is to validate emotions, control impulses which leap synapses and flit and fade, I have sinned and transgressed I have violated laws and statutes and I beg forgiveness that I might live, this I, this cogito who has no external reference save God which makes all things real, all illusion. It is comforting knowing in death the soul is carried on, thought lingers, or does it cease such that I am not for I think not, yet why should I fear, for when it is done, I will not have been save as a reference point, a linchpin from which may hang ornaments of a life, a tidy sum.
Getting a headache, are we? You feel like Schrodinger’s cat. It’s really like asking yourself if the Big Bang was the beginning of everything, what was there in that split second before the Big Bang? If God created everything, what created God? If time begins with the Big Bang, what time was it before there was time? And who are you really, if you know your are merely an illusion created by you? And please tell me, what time is it? Find the black hole, for there is freedom.
It hardly seems all that long ago when we were immortal, when we measured our days by the number of dares we undertook, each with its own level of stupidity which we took, mistakenly, for courage. We are older now, we would like to think far wiser as well, but the line between truth and illusion is thin and almost impossible to discern. We now measure our days in open rooms with small clusters of neatly arrayed chairs
and the odd table piled with magazines that have faded with time and disuse, occasionally a fish tank where it is hard to tell who is less interested we or the fish, but they, at least, aren’t waiting for the nurse to call us, take our vitals and say in a shocking display of honesty, “the doctor will be with you eventually.”
God, it was a long night, unending needs unsated, brought to the edge man is a cruel beast, half master as pleading supplicant, half slave much the child, begging, wanting as if food or thought would give man humanity, elevated above needs, existing outside, independent a God, ruler of illusion and fantasy.
First Appeared in Aura Literary Arts Review, Vol. 3, No. 2, Summer 1996.
There comes a moment at which both memory and history become blurred at the edges, where the bedrock on which belief has been so carefully erected seems more magma, shifting threatening to bring down the superstructure of desire and assumption. It is the fading that is at once both fear inducing and exhilarating for faith is tested and will most likely fail leaving uncertainty in place of illusion. This is the joy and treat of aging where your own life has former lives that you cannot be certain you lived, which seem familiar enough but never with the crystalline clarity you imaged memory must have. Memory is a Buddhist river and so much of the fun is continually getting your feet wet once again.
The thing he wants most is to experience life and all it offers. By that he means he wants to see what is there, to smell it, to engage it with all of his senses, for those are what he trusts, they provide him reality, without them his mind could not frame the moment. The thing she wants most is to be in life, an integral part of what is offered, to be indistinguishable from life, so that they eyes cannot see it, the nose cannot smell it, the mind cannot frame anything, for she is that thing and that moment and there is nothing else, except perhaps him staring, sniffing and cataloging his own illusory world.