The Art of Being

Turn off your mind relax and float downstream
It is not dying, it is not dying
Lay down all thoughts surrender to the void
It is shining, it is shining
That you may see the meaning of within
it is being, it is being.

Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles

We don’t need to spend our lives and ultimately endure unthinkable suffering to experience sensual pleasure. Just being, just the building blocks of this moment are sensual and intimate.

If we can put aside our thoughts of gain and loss, good and bad, past and future, then we can start to relax. We can surrender our self-concepts and self-interest to Just This, to just being.

Self-interest and self-concepts only exist to help us attain satisfaction. If we’re already satisfied, we don’t need to take them seriously. We can keep them in perspective. We can just be. Not being as an idea that’s opposed to not being, but being as the raw experience of basic presence and experience that all beings ultimately share in some way.

Everything is really quite intimate. The sound of coffee pouring into a cup, the clouds drifting from horizon to horizon, the feel of these fingers on these keys—what could possibly be more intimate than this?

The whirring air cleaner I hear from across the room, that isn’t over there. If that sound was over there, I wouldn’t be able to hear it over here. It’s in the mind, as am I. I won’t find myself anywhere else but in this mind, and the same goes for the whirring air cleaner. No one else is gonna hear it the same way I do.

And the mind is so close that we can’t even see it, it’s what’s reading these words, and it does so effortlessly. But the mind isn’t just in our heads. If the whirring of the air cleaner was just in my head, I wouldn’t hear it as if it’s across the room. Also, if we examine our bodies, we won’t find a single thing called “mind” or “being” anywhere. Hell, we won’t even find “a being.”

That doesn’t mean there isn’t one. If there wasn’t, then everything would be like a rock, just a lump of lifeless matter. It just means that it isn’t what we always assumed it was.

The Mind isn’t mine either. If it was mine, then you wouldn’t have one. If it was mine, then I could keep it from changing—meaning I could, right now, stop the air cleaner from whirring without turning it off. As the things we experience change, the mind changes. As the mind changes, we change. It goes the other way as well.

All of this together without differentiation is Mind, it’s Being. When we see through everything we want to be or the way we think things are, we see it. When we respond to something effortlessly and naturally, we’re embodying it.

When we stop trying to be and just are, Being does the work for us. The nature of all things is to automatically make the most appropriate choice possible in that moment. Water takes the path of least resistance, the wind blows and the flag moves accordingly. We’re the same way.

It’s when we get bogged down by self-interest, judgments, and speculation that we stop functioning in harmony with everything else. We become like a stream that decided, “Ya know, I’m gonna flow up that mountain instead of along this riverbed.” Or like a puddle of water on a 90 degree day that says, “I’m gonna turn to ice right now.” That’s beautiful, in its own way. But, it’s suffering.

It doesn’t work because the conditions aren’t right. The art of being is to abide conditions, to think, speak, and do things in season. Strangely, this gives a sense of independence and autonomy that was never there when we thought we could flow up a mountain or freeze outside on a summer day.

That’s because, for the first time, we’re embodying something that’s truly ours. That doesn’t come or go, a principle that’s the same for all beings. And beings are unique because the conditions that created them and sustain them are unique. There’s Mind, and there are minds; there’s Being and there are beings. They’re not the same, but they’re not different.

Hot and cold are Mind and Being, flowing and freezing are minds and beings. As long as what is is in line with the principles behind it, everything goes smoothly and embodies the best possible form that those circumstances allow.

This doesn’t make life into a paradise. Why would it? Life is just life, if you want paradise, smoke opium. If ice had nerves, I’m sure it could possibly interpret freezing and melting to be kind of unpleasant. But those unpleasant moments are just that: moments.

Once the ice has melted, there’s no trace of its former iciness; once water freezes, there’s no trace of flowing. Turning being into an art doesn’t make us numb or put us into the thralls of an eternal orgasm, it prevents unpleasant moments from being viewed as an unpleasant life in an unpleasant world.

So there’s no point in trying to be like a dead log or someone trying out a new sex toy unless that’s what the moment calls for. If the moment calls for happiness, we’re happy. If it calls for grief, we’re grieving.

The difference is that as things change, we change. When the conditions for that happiness are gone, so is the happiness. When the conditions for grief are gone, grief is gone.

Often times, memory, judgments, and self-interest replace the natural conditions that gave rise to an experience and sustain it indefinitely.

This prevents us from being able to keep changing and have new experiences, which puts all of our decision making in an inapplicable frame of reference. So we make unskillful choices that condition more unpleasant experiences until life itself seems like a struggle or a meaningless pile of shit.

That’s because we’ve forgotten our True Nature, Mind-only/Being. If we remember Being, if we work with it and are mindful of it, then we’ll always be the best possible version of ourselves living in the best possible world.

When Siddhartha Woke Up and became the Buddha, he looked around and saw everyone living out of season, and because of that, they were suffering.

He saw people chasing what they could never catch and defending what they’d already lost. He saw people complaining about the rain on a sunny day and walking unprotected during thunderstorms.

He saw us interpreting our lives through judgments, memories and expectations, and self-interest. This is what he meant when he said that we live our lives lost in illusions. If the rain falls, it can collect into a pool. If it doesn’t fall, then light, moisture, and perception can project a pool where there isn’t one.

He saw that we’re trying to drink or trying to swim out of these imaginary pools. It isn’t that all pools are mirages, that’s a nihilistic or solipsistic take on Buddhism. It’s just these pools that appear without rain that are imaginary, that cause suffering.

That’d be like if I heard the air cleaner whirring even after I turned it off. “What’s wrong with this thing?” Or if I didn’t hear it when it was on.

The art of being that Buddhism teaches is to stop trying to drink from or swim out of imaginary pools, and instead drink from a real one, swim out of real ones. To share water from these actual pools, instead of handing people piles of dirt saying, “Drink up! It’s fresh!”

This all stems from directly experiencing the Mind/Being. Then we can let ourselves embody it.

One way to get a feel for this is in being aware of the things that happen without intention. When someone calls our name, we turn to look. Then we can ask, “What was that? Who did that?” I just raised my hand to my head to scratch an itch, “What was that? Who did that?” Seeing these words and reading them is happening naturally. “What is this? Who’s doing this?”

Just Being. Just Mind. Just This.

One thought on “The Art of Being

  1. You’ve helped name some of our not being: not trusting because body senses and mind disconnected. Danger seeking became our being and so we saw pools of water everywhere and most are illusions. True Nature, it might still be here. Maybe no bridge is needed for The Trust Gap. Maybe try to Be and notice which pools are and aren’t real? Recalibrate through body/mind connection

    Liked by 1 person

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