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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

If Everything is Impermanent...

If everything is impermanent, if all experiences are essentially fleeting, then the goal is to let go. It makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Somehow, though, we expect our awakening experiences - our glimpses through the fog, if you will - to somehow transmute into a permanent state. In fact, we imagine that enlightenment amounts to living in those states of clarity twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week - but if that happened, could we really function on a day to day basis?

Let me back track for a moment and say that these satori experiences are really not all that uncommon. We all have them from time to time, and spiritual practitioners tend to have them more
frequently than the population at large, but they aren't the exclusive purview of the spiritual practitioner. Athletes, even amateur athletes, have these experiences of being "in the zone" when their performance excels through a period of clearly seeing what needs to happen and being able to do it. While we can certainly debate whether such experiences are life transforming in and of themselves, they are indeed experiences of awakening into our physical selves and our physical potential. On the spiritual plane, similar experiences exist wherein we have periods of seeing clearly, having the answers to our questions appear, of having everything fit together in what suddenly becomes a common sense view. We wonder why we didn't see these things earlier, and revel in the wonder of a universe that makes sense. Eventually, the experience ends and we don't see with that clarity. We can become attached to these experiences and wish they would come back, a strategy that only serves to push them farther away and miss the point of the experience entirely. Why, though, should we expect it to remain? Are not all experiences, even mystical experiences, impermanent?

Moreover, if you have had one of these experiences you may be aware that during them you were not especially in touch with your environment. It would not be a good thing to enter an awakening experience while driving a car, and we can be happy that they don't come upon us unless we are receptive to them, have done more than a little ground work, and are in a place wherein our senses are available to the experience. Sadly, you won't be able to blame your next fender bender on the sudden onset of mystical vision. If what awakening consisted of was inhabiting these states full time, an
awake person would be rendered unable to function in day to day existence. Such an existence would be psychosis, not awakening.

I suspect that a fully awake person operates on a day to day level not much differently than you and I. They see things more clearly than we do, but they aren't lost in the ozone all blissed out and unavailable to family and friends. What distinguishes a fully awake person from you and I is that they fully live in love. Their actions and responses come from love, that love allows them to see the hearts of others more clearly and respond to them in the most helpful way. Are they perfect? I suppose that depends on how you define perfect. I would say that as we become more and more awake we more fully inhabit love. We may never bowl a perfect game, shoot eighteen holes-in-one in a round of golf, or never again get a speeding ticket. The things we do, however, we do more and more in love until we abide fully in love. That's a perfection that transcends all the other nonsense we normally think of as being a part of perfection, and I am coming to see it is what awakening is all about.

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