The confused try to clear the sky of clouds, but it’s the aversion to clouds that they should be trying to clear.
The greatest obstacle to seeing the Way is despising one’s ignorance. Trying to escape the confusion only adds more confusion to it. Like a Chinese Finger Trap, if you try to pull out of it, it only tightens. The only way out is forward, into the heart of the dream.
It’s simple: whatever we do also engages the opposite. Grasping joy means grasping sorrow; pushing away sorrow means pushing away joy. When joy and sorrow are seen to be Joy-Sorrow, and when that’s accepted just as it is, then there’s no problem.
The Taoists got it spot on, and the Zennists picked it up from there, carrying it forward into modernity long after Taoism has fallen into shambles.
The mantra of all the great paths throughout history is simply: All is one, one is all. If one just sees oneness directly and then nurtures that vision, that’s all it takes. And it doesn’t matter how you get there or how you frame it. It doesn’t matter what you call it. Because beneath it all, the feeling’s the same; it’s the feeling that’s transmitted.
That said, oneness comes in many flavors, there are many facets to it. What I focus on is oneness of mind, the dialectic, since as the B-Man said, “Mind is the forerunner of all conditions. Mind is their chief; they are mind-made.”
It is difficult to go out trying to straighten out the world when the mind is bent. Because when the mind is crooked, it’s impossible to tell how straight or crooked anything else is. It’s impossible to see the oneness of all things when the mind itself is split into conflicting pieces.
When that happens, oneness is set up as contrary to many and all views that entertain the notion that, “There are many things,” are thought to be wrong. This is confused thinking. In oneness, there’s room for everything just the way they are.
My practice was once generic: I was trying to clear away the clouds from my mind to glimpse the big blue that’s always present above them. This is a helpful skillful means at times, but becomes detrimental if clung to as an end in itself.
The fact is that the clouds are just as much a part of the sky as the clear blue is. Clinging to clarity is still clinging. Liberation takes place on the level of meta-cognition. In our thoughts about thinking; how we feel about our feelings; the views we have about our views. This is the target, because this is where the grasper/grasped fracture occurs.
People had no language to deal with meta-cognition when the ancient wisdom texts were assembled, but it’s the reason why Buddha said that the “human-realm” offers the best opportunity for enlightenment.
Humans and a few other animals, like dolphins, are capable of meta-cognition. Meta-cognition is what gives the sense I being a solid, permanent, independent “I.” Without, there’s still a person, but the world becomes nothing but direct sensation without reflection. Clinging, craving and suffering are still present, but no compounded as it is in us—it doesn’t collect interest, sort of speak.
Besides, it’s confused to think that suffering is something to be done away. Where there are living beings, there is suffering. But suffering doesn’t have to consume us, it can be put into perspective.
Without clinging to joy, suffering becomes a little less sticky. Without pushing away suffering, joy becomes more pervasive. It’s like staggering against a cold wind with a fireplace in your body, or wandering through the night with the sun in your eyes.
It’s just a matter of accepting the contradictions. When that happens, the mind can open up.