We continue our teachings on Right View, or Right Understanding, one aspect of the Noble Eight-Fold Path, taught in Buddhism.
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In The Citadel of Awareness, Anam Thubten shares about a Dzogchen - lineage of nondual Tibetan Buddhism - lama. The lama was teaching Dzogchen in the West. He gave a teaching talk and sent the students away with an assignment. They were to meditate, inquiring into the nature of mind. When everyone returned, the lama was curious to know what they had discovered. He asked a few students. Each found something - a blue-colored Buddha, a beautiful vision with lights, a double vajra, or something else. He was shocked, for traditionally, the answer is, "I haven't found anything." He discontinued the class, realizing how much they had misunderstood the teaching.
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When seeking truth, we usually seek a something we can contrast with other somethings. In my upbringing, "God" and "Satan" were contrasts - to believe in one was to believe in the other. Relatively, we can find a something. We put that into words to share. We think to find something, we must find something. We announce our discovery, and we might try to persuade others to agree that our something is the correct something.
Yet, absolutely, to find nothing is to find something. Truth is not an absence. Finding nothing is a more mature, more subtle form of insight.
For example, if we look into the mind, laying aside the anticipation to find something, we cannot find anything. Still, this nothing is not an absence, like a lifeless void. If this were so, we would end up being a nihilist. But this discovered is not a some-thing either. We are left with nothing; we, then, try to say this nothing. We try to shape hints of what we found, having made it into an object to clarify. Yet, initially, what was discovered was itself clear and its own clarity. Silence becomes a confession of the Ineffable. But can we remain quiet, tolerating the power and purity of the pure seeing, before we try to pull it out of its silence into words? Can we respect truth that much?
One of the reasons for so much suffering in the world is we make a something out of nothing. We, for example, make a something out of race, when race is the Radiance of non-race. Whole peoples have been forced to submit to a belief system - a set of somethings - not true to their culture. We talk around truth. How we speak of it can honor it, yet we can recognize how we refer to it is one way to do so, not the only. We can do this, acknowledging the hiddenness of what we speak about.
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Each creature, called animate or inanimate, enfolds its mystery within itself, which is revealed without forfeiting its hiddenness. To have Right View is to see this Effulgence of the hidden and, thereby, we can honor it and sense its kinship with our hiddenness.
In seeing the hiddenness, we more appreciate and honor beings. Right View leads to love, for we love more wisely what we see more truly. This love is not a sentimental affection but a deep appreciation and respect. Hence, the more we love, the more we enter the hidden depths of the other. And the more we enter the hidden depths of the other, the more we love. Hiddenness is the ground of love.
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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.