Monthly Archives: August 2016
I don’t know if you are aware, but I’m gathering these pieces on the early Buddhist approach to Death and Dying together, to make a book from them. Thanks for the feedback you’ve given me along the way.
It’s a rewarding project, but it’s reached a point lately where I have to sit down and do a lot of editing work. For instance, I have to go through every piece I’ve written over the last year and a half and see where it fits in the overall scheme. (I’ve got a broad outline, sketched out.) Until I do this, it’s a little confusing how the big picture is unfolding.
This means I’ll undertake, over the coming weeks, a painstaking process involving: reading through of each post, categorising each one, and managing the overall sorting process. I really can’t write any more pieces until I know how the whole thing is going.
I started this process on Subhana and Joyce’s bi-annual Creativity retreat recently, and it was really very helpful. It means a lot of thinking of a different sort than I do in the actual writing, though. Thank the Kosmos (and Literature and Latte) for Scrivener, to achieve this task with the minimum pain!
So, I’m sorry to say that it’s a choice presently between daily writing and this nitty-gritty editing process. Hence, I’ve decided to write to you only once a week, until this is done. Hopefully it won’t take long. Thanks again to you my readers. One reason that the voice has not been hard to find for this writing is because I think of you, and write directly for you.
A Fictional Conversation
“What does that mean, that you’ve ‘done what had to be done’?”
“You sound like you mean, ‘Because, after all, in life there is always more?’ And, of course, I’d agree with that.”
“I was thinking something like that.”
“Yes. I didn’t mean in my personal life. As you say, it’s onward leading. To say what I mean might be difficult, but… nevertheless, I stand by it.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“It’s because I sense it, that I mean it.”
(Laughs). “In your body.”
“So… I know I mean something like this… It’s important in life, and it makes sense of our being born, that there needs to be a fundamental change in the mind during one’s lifetime – a change at the root. It’s a change which makes sense of everything.
“When I was a young person, as I became an adult, I couldn’t accept the values of our forebears. I could no longer accept their traditions and explanations. Their beliefs in rituals and gods couldn’t satisfy my inquiring mind. Why is life the way it is, so full of frustration and difficulties? Why were we born into the situation we are in?”
“Like, ‘Why is there birth?’”
“Well, that wasn’t a big deal, for me. Rather, why is one person beautiful and another not. Why are some poor and others not? Or, some are without limbs, while others have their bodies entire. These things even started to bother me when I was just a little child. I couldn’t make sense of it.”
“But, that’s because of karma isn’t it? Do something ugly, you end up ugly.”
“Well, I don’t accept that; and that’s part of what had to be ‘done.’ To see our opinions, ideas, views, and theories and speculations in perspective – to see their limited nature.”
“Ah! So you’re talking about realising the non-conceptual dimension. But, to ‘do what is to be done’ – these two things don’t seem to go together.”
“To ‘do what has to be done’ implies a law of some sort. And it implies some personal responsibility. All that’s culture. Whereas, what can’t be conceived seems to negate that.”
“When I was in the King’s Court, and long before I left for a life of freedom myself, it seemed that way for me.”
“Perhaps it was that I had all my needs worldly needs satisfied – that is one thing. But more importantly, with his being a contemplative, my son presented me with an entirely different way to think of my life. And, I saw him living the life that kept him in harmony with what is.
“I saw the change in him, and I listened. I reflected long (mostly silently) upon his words; and that, most of all, because he was speaking from experience, not tradition. I had the privilege of access to someone who had done what had to be done.”
“That is, whenever he came home, you had that access.”
“Which he frequently did. He didn’t forget us. But then when he wasn’t in our country, I had the opportunity to look around me and reflect in myself, for myself – on my own. There is a saying that ‘little trees don’t grow well under big ones.’ It was helpful, to me, that he would wander.
“But to return to your question… And the matter of doing what has to be done. The non-conceptual neither affirms nor negates. It doesn’t stand against the personal. Only concepts can do that.
“But, let me pause… I think this line of thought takes us away from the field of ‘this’; ‘this’ which we have here, which can lead us. So, let us come back to this: the sense of completeness. That’s it. That’s what I mean. The non-conceptual has its own unfolding order; and part of what ‘has to be done’ is that the seeker turns away from self-interest and puts herself under that – that intimate kind of law.”
“Living it in the body.”
“Then, also, another part of ‘done what had to be done’ is to not give up on the tasks that such an enquiry presents you with. Once begun, you’ve got to walk the road all the way, and not give up on what you know inwardly to be the way.”
“Oh. I see what you mean.”
“Maybe you do.”