When you throw a stick at a dog, the dog chases the stick.
When you throw a stick at a lion, the lion chases you.
Left brain and right brain, logic and imagination, intellect and intuition, relative and absolute, tonal and nagual. Without one you are a fool, without the other you are like the dead. As our meditation practice shrinks the amygdala and strengthens the prefrontal cortex it becomes more difficult to tell whether this piece of meat in our heads is a cause or an effect. As our meditation practice grows these questions become meaningless. The split, un-unified nature of our being is like the ladder that we use to climb the steps of self-knowledge, eventually transcending what we falsely took to be knowledge, knower and self altogether.
Persons of great capacity may suffer the most or the least, but they have one thing in common – the intuition that there is a solution of a higher order and that it lies within, at the root of, prior to the suffering that we experience. Intuition and intellect constantly entice our attention outside of ourselves during the course of life and practice and offer a seeming cornucopia of forms on which to place our projections, but one of great capacity follows these mirrored images to their source. Tired of sleep, sick of sickness, one of great capacity no longer chases the stick but looks towards the source of these projections.
Taking the model of the tonal and the nagual, or the relative and the absolute, we realize there is an island of reality which we human beings agree upon and share but it exists within a much larger reality which is mostly unknown and unknowable. Our physical bodies and minds exist as a unique set of awarenesses and it is these awarenesses which interpret everything for us within the tonal or the everyday, agreed upon, relative world. When this bundle of awarenesses, our very bodies, make a shift, this shifts our entire world. This shift comes about simply by the curative properties of awareness, by recognizing the state of our bundle of awarenesses. Because the recognition of our state of our awarenesses by definition involves a higher order seeing than these awarenesses, we must learn to enter the absolute and break free from our little island of ‘reality’ in order to see ourselves clearly. It is this recognition which brings about shifts in our awarenesses.
What we want is the ability to enter the absolute and to work from the second attention (awareness of the absolute) as well as the first attention (awareness of the relative). The second attention is developed by holding all of samsara at bay and learning not only to abide beyond it but also to hone in on the essential and basic structure of our current awarenesses – that emotional core of self that reflects and fractures all light into the universe we are creating for ourselves.
“Everyday Life is the Path:
Joshu: What is the path?
Nansen: Everyday life is the path.
Joshu: Can it be studied?
Nansen: If you try to study it you will be far from it.
Joshu: If I do not study it, how will I know it is the path?
Nansen: The path does not belong to the perception world, nor does it belong to the non-perception world. Cognition is a delusion and non cognition is senseless. If you want to reach the true path beyond doubt, place yourself in the same freedom as the sky. You name it neither good nor not good.” – Mumonkan
Recognizing this, we no longer cling to a self because self is but a temporary bundle of awarenesses. We no longer cling to enlightened or unenlightened action, seeing that all action is merely the best attempt for happiness made by a bundle of awarenesses. We no longer seek permanent enlightenment because there is no permanence among shifting awarenesses. We no longer see the relative as absolute and we cease chasing sticks. Recognizing this, we see that freedom involves a different locus of control than we previously thought, and we can become like children again, playful and faithful in our not-knowing, safe in the knowledge that a new bundle of awarenesses is but a glimpse away.