Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Ground Is Not Solid and There Is No Spoon: On the Antidote

I skipped writing last weekend because I'd been away from home most of the week and on Sunday, when I normally write, I needed some time to just be. The break was fortunately timed, though, because I was still stuck on trying to get at the nature of unborn awareness. I'd read commentary beyond's explanation of the third lojong teaching, but the source of that voice inside my head and trying to figure out who is really observing was elusive. I can handle looking outward and seeing nothingness, but I got stumped at turning my examination inward.

Then there's the fourth teaching, which complicated and muddled my brain even more:
Self-liberate even the antidote. wasn't helpful. They translate this tenet as, "Let even the remedy release naturally," and then go on to explain by saying:
"When thoughts about emptiness or non-self arise, look at the thought itself. It releases and you return to your original nature." (Source.)
I'd had no thoughts of emptiness nor of non-self. The little bit of sense I'd made of "unborn awareness" came from my understanding of Hindu ideas about God and the soul. Apparently I'd gotten off track. Trying to realign my thoughts to where they were supposed to be made my head hurt. All I could think was...

Instead of getting caught in a never-ending loop of confusion, I took a deep breath and used my Google-Fu to find further explanations about self-liberating the antidote. I'm glad I did, because I hit the jackpot. Turns out that Tricycle: The Buddhist Review has some in-depth commentary about the lojong teachings, and they even include practical exercises you can do to work with the concepts embedded in each tenet.

I read Judy Lief's piece multiple times, and the thing that stood out the most is this sentence that made so much sense to me:
"The need to find solid ground is so strong that you can even make the groundless nature of inner and outer experience into some kind of ground." (Source.)
I read that and it clicked.

Talk about "Thick Thick Thickity Thick Face From Thicktown Thickania." I'm exploring lojong, and Buddhism in general, because I'm trying to make sense of things. I want to understand the nature of unborn awareness, but that's the point of unborn awareness - it is unborn and therefore cannot be grasped. The ground is not solid and there is no spoon.

And, just in case you are foolishly reading this blog to better understand lojong (and if you are, let me remind you I'm such a freakin' novice with all this that I sometimes feel uncomfortable labeling myself as a Buddhist), I want to share one other part of the Tricycle piece:
"The point of self-liberating the antidote is that you don’t need to do anything to liberate it. You just need to realize that there are no antidotes. When you do so, the antidote liberates itself. It is because we keep trying to latch on to each and every meditative experience, realization, or insight that arises that this slogan is so important. It is a reminder not to do that." (Ibid.)
Not that I don't have my work to do on this, but now it feels doable.

Until the next time, namaste and all that.

P.S. Hope you'll forgive me mixing my pop culture references once again, but The Matrix and the 10th Doctor just seemed a natural fit for this post.

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