Saturday, October 24, 2009
When I cam upon this tree a few months ago, I couldn't help but stop and take a few pictures of it. With its bare limbs raised in the air, and almost everything around it dead as well, it's the perfect image of our repetitive, habit driven minds.
Chan Master Sengcan, in his great dharma poem Xinxinming, wrote "When you try to stop activity, your very efforts fill you with activity."
So, we have a quandary, don't you think? There's the mind dipping back into the past over and over again, bringing forth the same old muck, same old ways of acting and believing. And then there's this line, reminding us that suppression only brings more activity - and I'd say haunted activity at that.
Take a haunted house. How the spirit of someone that lived there, or spent time there in the past, now clings to the walls and floorboards, unable to let go of whatever it was that had happened there. Having no peace itself, the ghost fills the entire house, and everyone in it with dis-ease. It's a miserable existence, being trapped between incarnations, and also caught between the desire for liberation and the itchiness of recreating old misery.
In a way, all of us are like this at least some of the time. Some old event or dysfunctional way of acting or thinking arises and, instead of breathing into it and letting it be as it is, we pour ourselves into it, until we become like a forest filled with dead trees.
It's so easy to fall for it, to believe that whatever is arising is real, solid, requiring that we either indulge it or pound it dead into the ground. Maybe it's time to try a new approach, if only to lean towards liberating the ghost from it's haunted house.
Halloween is almost here. Will you be the one who smiles at the passing array of costumed children? Or will you feel a twinge of anxiety when the little ghosts and goblins arrive at your door, looking for candy?
Posted by Nathan at 4:16 PM