Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Enlightenment: The Tao of Now

"(A)wakening to our original enlightened nature," suggests Robert Holden in the Huffington Post, "involves interrupting the ordinary flow of linear, language-based, thinking so that we can rediscover "the mind within the mind"."

"Focusing on external circumstances or teachings is not what triggers the moment of enlightenment," writes Holden, an author with a decidedly Taoist bent, "(r)ather, it is focusing on the absence of internal commentary. Because it is impossible to "think" without words," he notes, "this practice of stopping the flow of running commentary on our lives involves cultivating a mindset of no-thought (wu-nien) in an attempt to experience each moment as it is without silently talking to ourselves about it."

Holden puts forward the following recollections of nature as doorways into "a wordless space of wonder at the profound transparency of nature," in which, "overwhelmed by awe in the face of creation, the boundaries between self and world dissolve in a mystical union transcending conscious thought."
  •  "A white pelican sails south across the darkening sky, heading deeper into the high desert marshlands."
  • "The first warning drops splash dust on the washboard road as a flock of ibis flap madly against the north wind."
  • "A yellow-headed blackbird throws its head back over its shoulder, singing ecstatically from its perch on a swaying cattail."
  • "The sun blinks through thinning clouds, throwing off a triple rainbow like a casual afterthought."
Each haiku-like observation of the pervasive, yet largely unobserved, face of the world around us, Holden suggests, "offers the perfect opportunity for a higher integration of one's original nature with the eternal Way (Tao) that gives rise to everything from within."

Thoreau's Walden Pond
In "On Man & Nature," the great Transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau observed: "I want to live ever as to derive my satisfactions and inspirations from the commonest events, every-day phenomena, so that what my senses hourly perceive, my daily walk, the conversation of my neighbors, may inspire me, and I may dream of no heaven but that which lies about me."

"Between Heaven and Earth," says the Tao-Te-Ching, "there seems to be a bellows: It is empty, and yet it is inexhaustible; the more it works, the more comes out of it. No amount of words can fathom it; better look for it within you."
"Paradoxically," writes Holden, "awakening to the perennial truth leads experiencers to see absolute truth and conventional truth as one, not two. This is part of the experience of swallowing the whole of the river in one gulp, wherein all dualities are united within the individual. This grasp of the non-duality of reality and appearance is expressed in the analogy of the statue of a golden lion: its form is that of a lion but its substance is of gold. Because its nature is that of a golden lion, its lion-form cannot be separated from its gold-substance. This analogy hints at the experience of non-duality that lies at the heart of enlightenment, in which the boundaries between self and other, inner and outer, collapse."
"In eternity," observes Thoreau, "there is indeed something true and sublime. But all these times and places and occasions are here and now. God himself culminates in the present moment, and will never be more divine in the lapse of all the ages. And we are enabled to apprehend at all what is sublime and noble only by the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality that surrounds us."

"Man follows the ways of the Earth," says the Tao-Te-Ching. "The Earth follows the ways of Heaven. Heaven follows the ways of the Tao. Tao follows its own ways."

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