Mirror, Mirror: The Riddle of Self Reflection, The Seeker
By Fa Shi Lao Yue
Are we at words?
I hope not.
My purpose in writing this essay is to offer a spiritual practice of examining what comes out of our mouth. In other words, to scrutinize what we say about our world, whether it is the world of our family or the world of our neighbors. When we study what comes out of our mouth about others we get a chance to see our tendencies that block the shining light of illumination.
What comes out of our mouth is a mirror of where we are.
We begin with an image of everything that we meet as a mirror. This mirror image includes the face of the other, the things in the world, the voice of someone else, the touch, the smell and the taste of what we meet everywhere we go. And most certainly this mirror includes the thoughts in the mind. Nothing is left out.
Everything is a reflection of the ego-self until we see everything with Buddha eyes.
All of what comes out of our mouth mirrors our spiritual state. And that in itself is a mouthful. This is a boon, a spiritual boon for us. It means the mirroring of everything is an omnipresent teacher, a characteristic of our Buddha nature, of God, of the undying, eternal Self. But it is only a teacher when we look into it as a self-reflection of our spiritual state. If we are unwilling to see our ego-self’s condition in this mirror we remain in ignorance, mired in the swamp of suffering.
We need a skill to look into such a potent spiritual mirror.
The skill requires a glimpse of the illumined Self. It is the illumined Self veiled by ignorance that shines the light on the ego-self in such a way that the eyes begin to see, even just a little, that everything is a reflection of the ego-self until we merge with and disappear into the Illumination. We practice the skill by recognizing that what comes out of our mouth is a reflection of the mess of me. This change helps us to see the hindrances for what they are and when we see what they are, we have an opportunity to let them go.
The true spiritual seeker is able to see what needs to die off. He begins to know everything that comes into his life as a light reflected on the ego-self. He begins to see without shame, pride or fear. There is less and less defensive protection around the ego, because there is no ego to defend.
He begins to see how he is in a crap shoot between good and bad or right and wrong and how it is best to get out of the crap game. A standard test to see where one is to notice when, where and how we experience shame, pride and fear and under what situations we defend our position as a being a somebody. When that drops away we begin to see through the reflected light of the indescribable, ineffable nature that is present.
The limitation for those who are wholly or even partially attached to the opposites is a stiff-necked defensiveness, an arrogant hold on a position, a fear of being seen, a shame that stymies and makes him hide out, often in anger and greed. But even these states are spiritual jewels. They tell the seeker where he is. Once the seeker moves in this direction and is able to reveal where he is he moves toward the light. It is a divine grace to have such freedom to see the pride, the shame, the fear. It’s an essential part of the practice. If, for some reason, the seeker bucks this acknowledgement, he veers into a ditch. The ditch also is part of the practice. But it is a psychological ditch, a battleground between what he sees and how he wants to appear. Often a teacher is needed to help the seeker out of the ditch. The ditch can quickly become mud turning the ground underneath to a swamp. The seeker in a ditch either seeks help or covers over the mess and pretends to be something. It is a painful place which all those who have gone before know.
The true seeker does not give up even if he finds himself in the swamp of suffering. He keeps going. With each effort upward the old dead karma drops away bit by bit even when the seeker does not see with Buddha eyes; even if he finds himself covered in mud up to his eyeballs. It’s never too late. It is a realization, a grace to see how ignorant he is. He continues to practice with the mud all over him. He puts himself into situations that support his practice of finding the Dharma, being illumined and letting go of the ego-self defense team. This is a remarkable indicator when the seeker sees the spiritual help in pride, shame and fear as grace from above. If he is stopped by these states, he has given in to them and given up.
Still the seeker is encouraged to continue. Begin the practice, don’t give up and continue.
Everything is workable for those who are willing to find the Way.