Friday, October 30, 2009

Such Suchness!

When I visited Japan two years ago, I became aware of the Japanese appreciation for the microcosmic nature of things. For example, when the Japanese view cherry blossoms, they, in fact, view the cherry blossom, one at a time. I know this is somewhat a generalization approaching a stereotype, but I did witness this tendency a number of times in other areas, touring around each island of Matsushima and even in the viewing of a leaf in Oirase Gorge.

I like to think that this is some kind of cultural translation of the Buddhist concept of Tathata, or suchness. I am certainly not an expert on this term, but I know what it means to me. It is a recognition of the essential reality of an object or experience beyond the sensual and conceptual apprehension of it in the mind.

Today, I revisited Plum Island (officially, the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and the Sandy Point State Reservation) and grooved on suchness. It’s become a tendency of mine as of late: first, seeing the dream state for what it is, and second, looking beyond to its suchness, although these two actually happen in a single state.

In autumn, it’s almost a state religion in these parts to go look at the foliage, the panoramic display of a landscape filled with deciduous color. But today, besides appreciating the landscape filled in limes and oranges, reds and rust, I looked at single leaves, and flowers, and reeds.

I remember a particular leaf, multicolored, and in an advanced state of decay. There was the suchness of impermanence itself! It’s easy to turn mystic in this practice. You look at a single leaf and realize its infinite suchness and ultimate impermanence, and then you look at all the leaves around you and realize the infinite variety of infinite suchness and impermanent transformation manifested all around in every direction...!

But when you come back to the heart, the feeling of Being itself, and realize it’s all the manifested display of the One, and that you are That, you begin to see that maybe this is what the self-conscious dream state is all about. Just the groovy trip of seeing your suchness in such a display. What would Richard Alpert say?

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