My last post had a quote by Rumi which said “there is one thing in this world which must never be forgotten.” For me this immediately brought up the question, “So what is this one thing?”
Often questions like this pop into my head right in the morning. It usually takes me a while to first get out of bed and then another while to completely wake up. Within my sleepy groggy state of mind, as soon as I get up there is a sense of wonder, simply about being alive, and along with this comes an inquisitiveness: What an amazing world! How did it come about? Can this be real? What am I doing here? What is for breakfast? What is this life about? What do I want to do with it? What am I supposed to do with it?
There is also a little voice that starts reminding me about practice. It tells me things like: “Remember Patrul Rinpoche said, don’t jump out of bed like a cow or a sheep from its pen. While you are still in bed; relax your mind; turn within and examine your mind and the actions during the night carefully,” “Open your shrine now and don’t forget to say the Stanza of Offering prayer,” “Now do the exhaling the foul air exercise and then the blessing of the speech,” “Don’t forget to establish the three crucial points of body speech and mind,” “Better start with the Ngöndro now or you will be really late,” “Time to start with Invoking the lama,” “Now reflect on the four thoughts,” Next take refuge and generate bodhichitta.”, “Time for your prostrations now,” and so on.
Questions like “Why are you practicing?” or What is this practice about?” help me not to get stuck in the familiar routine of my morning practice. Today I asked myself what is this “one thing” that must never be forgotten that Rumi speaks about?
In this particular quote, Sogyal Rinpoche explained it is “to realize and embody our true being,” but there are many ways of looking at what this means in more detail. I am sure you have your own favorite quotes and I invite you to post them as comments below. One of my favorite quotes is the last sentence of the chapter on meditation in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: “To embody the transcendent is why we are here.”
In my reflections, often every answer I try to give myself, brings up a new question. In this case the next question was “What is this transcendent?” For me, the transcendent is the inconceivable aspect of existence. The fact that the world appears in the first place. That things can arise and appear to be so real and yet that, when I try to look more deeply, I cannot find even the smallest independent, permanent entity or particle.
Seen from another angle, to embody this transcendent truth means not to restrict myself to the familiar way of relating to my being in this world as a “me” which is separate from the world around me. It means not to limit myself to the rigid framework of my relative dualistic world; black and white, right and wrong, and so on. However, it does not mean to deny these relative aspect of my existence or to try to get rid of these concepts and replace them with new different ones. Instead I understand it to mean that I need to allow this mystery of existence that is “beyond words, beyond thought, beyond description” permeate my being. To embody the transcendent means to infuse my being with a deeper understanding which encompasses both the relative and absolute level of truth.
I haven’t forgotten that I promised a few more quotes from different masters and books on this topic a few posts ago. They are still coming, but this reflection managed to push itself to the first place in the line.