On November 19, 2016 Ming Zhen Shakya died. This is in remembrance of her generous and fearless teachings. Thank you. Thank you, for everything you offered. OM NAMO GURU DEV NAMO
Beyond the Mundane Comes
She sits and offers her hands as gestures of the direction to go. Could any of us be any luckier than to receive even one gesture that comes from beyond the electronic magic of gigabytes and satellites.
Every day we keep losing our connection to the dirt in thinking and thinking and thinking. Our heads are too full of thinking, so full we cannot remember what stillness is or the comfort of silence or the smell of the dirt. Our minds are packed with passwords, apps, and screenshots.
Numbers reign. Codes and robots abound. When we reach a human voice, hear the old words, “How may I help you?” we rejoice. There is the tension of wading through repetitive music and dead, stifling words of “The wait time is 47 minutes.” The setup is to give us an option to receive a callback or promises to callback. The situation is either we hang on the line, wait for a call back or worst of all, the repetitive tiresome dictum to go online and figure out how to maneuver through the maze of screens for a solution. The instructions are worse than the solution. Rest assured, going online should be the last option anyone should attempt. Most of us start online and never find the answers we need in the tangle of screens.
Sadly, when we have done the unpaid work for the organization for an hour and sometimes 5 hours on the phone waiting for a voice, we get a person who is not well-trained or has such a thick accent that the words are unrecognizable.
I wonder what the motivation is of the makers of such snarls. What we need is simple, clear and to the point. We need human contact!
Is it intentional. Is this a perverse way to offer customer service? Will we be worn down to try yet again the absurd structure of the screens. Is this approach to service a way to generate more revenue for the sellers?
Whatever happened to instructions? Simple, step-by-step instructions?
Gone! There are few instructions and much of what passes for instructions does not really help solve whatever problem we might be having.
Those of us who use electronic gear of any sort end up at one time or another becoming a temporary employee for the manufacturer and seller. It is not just boxes, phones, and internet routers but medical assistance, banks, libraries and most service and transportation organizations.
Have we lost our mind, yet?
Is it harder and harder to remember what it is to put pen to paper in our own hand? Are we forgetting how to read? Do we even know how to be civil and courteous? Or are we already living in a digital imaginary world of looking at others, animals, and nature. Have we forgotten the images are not real? Believing what you see is suspect since all of it can be digitally manipulated.
With the recent pandemic the digital world increased in political hype along with politically motivated censorship. Without old-fashioned newspapers and old-fashioned news casters, we suffer from opinionitis. Pundits abound. Pundits spin the stories this way and that way. What is true, what is exaggerated?
Am I showing my age? You betcha? With age, if we practice, wisdom comes. But even this truth is subject to those who want to euthanize the old. Let me say that again – there are those with power who want to euthanize the old. In this very town they are doing programs to explain the benefits of aging – why would we need that training? It certainly suggests we do not value the wisdom of a long life and need to learn how to value aging. But this situation is very odd indeed. Right along with devaluing aging, advertisements bombard us with how-to stay alive for as long as possible.
All is suffering. All of it. Dukkha. The misery of the world never disappears, it merely changes. The change can be an awakening. But it always remains suffering. For those attached to the things of the world, the digital expression of a global community looks fascinating. Fascination on the one hand and the status quo on the other; both are suffering. All of it Dukkha. Yes, there are moments of peace and moments of fear. the past, the future and this moment is dukkha.
This human experience is not paradise. It is not nirvana. The transcendent is beyond the human experience. It is beyond the screens, the pundits, the exhaustion of using digital communication and even beyond ideas. There is a that beyond which we no longer are divided by right and wrong. It is not a physical place; it is beyond this ever-changing physical world of things.
It is freedom to separate ourselves from the bondage of things. All that the world offers are suffering and bondage. It may appear to be otherwise, but that is part of the illusion. We know this truth on some level, but we humans are willing to subject ourselves to the restless, confusion of wanting, having, knowing, and keeping things. We go as far as to identify ourselves as a thing! We take pride in claiming what we have accomplished, what we know, get, and keep. We squirrel away our stuff for? For what? To show our prowess, to pat ourselves on the back, to puff up, quarrel over a countless number of miseries.
And now in the 21st century, we are tempted by the things on a global level! We are exhausted by our need for temporary jobs with a host of companies. We attempt to repair a glitch of something or another, needing various bits of information for a product or service we have and feel we need. We now have more to look after: computers, phones, routers, passwords, and the barrage of advertisements. Our privacy certainly is a part of history.
Despite our fatigue, despite the temptations of wanting, getting, and having, and despite our identification with the things, there is a Way to freedom. Yes, even in a worldwide, digital madness. Chan Master Hongzhi puts it succinctly.
Separate yourself from disturbance and face whatever appears before you.
Followed by devotion of: Mother! Yes, you got it right. Mother! Not the human mother but Mother of Everything and Beyond.
Many names are used for Mother, but we will focus only on one used in Buddhism and Hinduism and that name is Maya. Maya was the name of Buddha’s mother and is known to be the Mother of the Universe in Hinduism. She is no ordinary mother. She is “illusion and reality all at once.” She is the One that holds the world as an illusion until we are ready to turn away from our misapprehension of the world as being paradise. It is not paradise. It is an illusion, an artifice and shall we say, “a sleight of hand.” It is an apparent reality. And we get deceived by it repeatedly. LOL, I hope you can laugh for it is a relief to know firsthand that this world is a passing show. When we can see Mother’s handiwork, we are able to experience the liberation and realization of what and who we are.
Everything proceeds from the One.
All the misery of this global digital illusion is just that – an illusion. Don’t fret. Don’t sweat. Don’t get entangled in it as if it is the end-all and be-all of existence. Don’t get fascinated and attached to a thing.
Don’t take life so seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive, anyhow.
Turn to Mother! Recognize the power of Mother! Humbly request Mother’s signs and gestures beyond the satellites and screens. Hand gestures and stances that speak louder than the signals of on and off, off and on. Gestures that cut off our incessant desires, likes, dislikes and disagreeableness. Seek fearless generosity. Forget the selfish attachments of me, my and mine.
When we forget our attachments, the underlying mental formation that stokes up the fires of not getting what we want, we experience freedom. When we go at life such as going at the digital world, we often go at it with a sense of deserving or a sense of entitlement. We believe we have the right to get whatever it is we want. The attachment brings suffering.
When we can recognize attachment, we benefit from the gestures of Holy Mother who raises a sword to cut away all this selfishness held in the head. And when the sword strikes, it leaves us with the gesture of fearless generosity. In other words, we will be OK despite the difficulties and miseries of the digital age.
We, like every other generation, can learn to cut away the attachments to be fearlessly generous. It requires a recognition that there is nothing in it for me, my or mine. These gestures sum up the teaching “ALL ACCEPTANCE. This includes everything in every moment.
Author: Fashi Lao Yue
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