|Blue Mountains, New South Wales|
Blue to remind us that even though something may look very old, in actuality its existence is but a blink in the vast and fathomless ocean of life...
“Pity the self that is, not the world that is not.
Engrossed in a dream, you have forgotten your true self.”
It is such an odd thing that while we live we simply cannot imagine that death will come for us and for those that we love one day. Our life and our ‘story’ become so engrossing that we completely lose all wider perspective. We live inside the drama that is unfolding for us day by day and become so enslaved by it that we are not able to see the screen upon which all of it is being played out and which makes the enactment possible in the first place.
We don’t need to fear death or be morbidly preoccupied with its inevitability but keeping an awareness of it in mind can give us quite a different perspective on life. By remembering it often, we find cause to celebrate the time that we have now and to live that time fully and deeply.
When we dream in our sleep we eventually wake up and we know that we dreamed while we slept. But when we wake up from our living dream the whole basis of the illusion that we once believed to be true, starts to unravel. We begin to die to the ‘little self’ and are reborn to the greater. A crack opens up in our mind and things no longer seem quite as real as they had before. The tight grip of our preoccupation begins to loosen and with that loosening, come moments of lucidity, moments of peace.
The late Khyentse Rinpoche sometimes used to liken people to little children. He spoke of how they would get so swept away by their lives. Like a child busy making a sand castle near the ocean. He becomes so engrossed in making the castle that he does not notice that the tide is coming in and that the sun is sinking lower on the horizon. Eventually, when the water is lapping right at his heels and the sun is about to disappear he suddenly looks up and begins to cry. He calls for his mother and weeps for the sand castle which is being dissolved by the incoming waves.
Are we not like this? Utterly preoccupied with what is happening in our mind and in our immediate surroundings.
We have all watched sad movies and later felt relieved that it was only a movie and not something actually going on in our own lives. We were happy to return to our familiar life and world. Yet the slings and the arrows of misfortune can jolt us so strongly that they provide the very impetus we need to step back from the living dream and see it for what it really is. Without these jolts we might continue on indefinitely, absorbed with our game, unaware of the passage of time.
In the midst of a happy life are we likely to stop and ask ourselves; what is this all about?’ But when sorrows blight our existence nothing is more natural than that we should step back and question our existence. We need not shun our mind or our emotions, because, in time, they can become our greatest motivators and our staunchest allies. From out of the fire of our suffering and pain, is born and arises the Phoenix.
Iron ore may think itself senselessly tortured in the furnace and yet,
When the blade of finest steel emerges, it knows better.
All our suffering is tied up with the belief in a separate self. When that ‘little self’ ceases to exist, the world is seen clearly for what it really is; a fleeting drama. If we can see beyond the illusion of a separate identity we can release ourselves from the fascination of the 'living dream' once and for all.
Pity the self that is, not the world that is not.
Engrossed in a dream, we have forgotten our True Self.
Excerpt from the book; Who Lives? Who Dies?