When I walked this morning,
cloud-cover was heavy, and even now,
so short awhile later,
some earlier breaking reversed,
the sense of rain returned.
But for a moment,
ascending the lower slopes,
light broke the horizon silver-white
breath caught my throat,
my body stilled right there,
feet to pavement—it passed,
as I said,
but in that moment, it was there
and I there with it.
Our sense of self, sense of world, co-arise as simultaneous movements mutually imprinting seemingly separate surfaces of being—but only seemingly separate, our teachers tell us. World transformed is self transformed, and vice-verse. The problem then, not them, but me.
I, as do you, ache often these days, despair at the pain, frustration and horror of conditions in immediate surroundings and in the world at large. And in the face of it all, the counsel to focus on self, seems, well, ludicrous, self-serving, even non-responsive.
But no matter how legitimate, how compelling the call to relieve the suffering, to do something, political, social or religious, our collective failure to attain sustained resolution is obvious—we live, have lived within the results of such failed efforts our entire lives.
Unless the self is seen clearly, the world remains immersed in cloud-cover. And self is seen most clearly in immediate relation, not in the abstract. Think of it. Buddha lived over 2,500 years ago, awaking in a world of human relations and conditions very similar to ours. He found, like us, that he could not ignore the confusion he witnessed, but he did not start a movement. He turned to those around him, those who he could touch, those who were within the reach of his voice, whose voices reached his ears, and he spoke with them, walked with them, lived with them. That’s all.
Movements are fine, as long as our individual movement, up close and personal, emanates clarity and integrity—this is the most valuable contribution we ever make. This work doesn’t do for good sound bites, cannot be tallied or twittered or measured. And it is never finished. It’s the real work. In and of itself it resonates in ways and in time far beyond anything we can imagine. Think about it.