Another aspect of "stopping," from a Buddhist perspective, is the ability to look deeply at what is, in order to gain understanding and insight.
*Valerie Brown. Living from the Center: Mindfulness Meditation and Centering for Friends. Pendle Hill Pamphlets Book 407.
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NOTE: Wisdom, as used here, refers to seeing what is. We often see what we have been told to see; hence, we are not seeing, only looking at. Spiritual growth entails a challenge to so-called truths about the way things are. Yet, spiritual insight is not merely some category of spiritual set off to itself. I use spiritual regarding wisdom at the risk of misleading; yet, also, it implies all insight is sacred in essence, even seeing a rock as the rock it is. Finally, however, things become neither spiritual nor not. They become for us what they are: is.
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A man is out walking and comes upon an abbot and monks. They appear to be building a chapel. The man approaches the abbot. He says, "Father, what a wonderful thing to do, to build a chapel here!" The abbot replies, "Sir, we're not building a chapel, we're tearing it down." Inquired the bewildered man, "Why tear down the chapel?" "So," the abbot says, "we can see the Sunrise in the morning."
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Yesterday, the posting was "The Way to See: On Clear Vision." The story above points out a key to receiving insight.
The Sun signifies wisdom in general or any particular insight into reality. The chapel implies something esteemed holy but, nevertheless, blocking the Sunshine. We would not expect an abbot and monks to be tearing down a worship building. That plot twist highlights the teaching of the narrative.
We tend to assign a unique quality to our beliefs, making them untouchable. If these are seen as religious or spiritual, we may esteem them especially beyond challenge. This is a way leaders can remain in power. The taboo against questioning can be assigned to other fields of thought - family, sexuality, gender, politics, race, class, justice, ...
In our story, the abbot represents leadership that values the Sunshine over the chapel. We need leadership like that. We need leaders who are truth-speakers, who value facts before power and prestige. When leaders speak the truth, those who have entrusted them with leadership are more likely to do the same. The monks represent such persons.
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The way of truth is a way of courage. Most persons repeat what they are told is true. They do not think, they repeat. These persons find consolation in the group-think of the crowd. At times, it seems they think the more they say something is true, that makes it true. Leaders use this repetition to manipulate people, knowing persons often believe what they hear repeatedly affirmed.
Few persons, in comparison, are willing to challenge what they have been told is true; these persons hold to a healthy skepticism about truth claims. These persons choose to see well, remaining open to see differently. They love wisdom, refusing to sacrifice it to ideological idols. They have fallen in love with the Sun. Understanding is beautiful to them.
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Wisdom is already present, as I noted yesterday. We arrive at understanding by removal of the chapel. We do not make insight appear. Insight appears of itself. Wisdom is appearing. Manifestation is its nature. So, the tearing down speaks of subtraction. We see by subtraction of that which blocks our seeing. Every falsehood we hold blocks out Sunlight. Every misconception we let go of welcomes in Sunlight.
Finally, insight is a recognition. We can recognize wisdom, for we already know it. When the light comes on, so to speak, we see what we already knew. If we did not know, we could not re-cognize. So, insight is arising not from the person but the Self. That is, wisdom is seen from the collective store of understanding as part of the one Self. Seeing is individualized through each of us, like a ray of light, while the supernal Radiance already is.
In the opening quote from Valarie Brown, what do you sense she means by "deep looking"? Why is stopping important in receiving insight? Do you recall a time when you gave up a long-held belief to admit a truth? Looking back, how has that influenced your life since? Do you remember a time when a spontaneous insight arose to you, as though from out of nowhere? What was that like for you?
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*© Brian K. Wilcox, 2021
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book consists of poems based on wisdom traditions, predominantly Christian, Buddhist, and Sufi, with extensive notes on the poetry's teachings and imagery.