my brain & spirituality

The first event that got me wondering about my relationship to my brain  was my root teacher telling me that she couldn’t see a gap between me and enlightenment any more.  This was at one and the same time great news, but also depressing: where was it, then?  At that time, I didn’t realize how far I had to go.

“Koans” then became interesting, and still are.  For instance, I kept remembering the phrase “there is no surplus or lack” from a chant we do in the zendo at the monastery.  (Unless otherwise noted, the monastery is Tassajara, inland in the Vedanta Wilderness from Monterey, CA).  It kept pestering me until it became visceral, because it didn’t make any sense.  (Please note that I soon began to completely distrust my brain’s ability to understand anything having to do with spirituality).  When it became visceral, I understood that with the relative and the Universe being One, there could not possibly be any “surplus or lack”, since the Universe is infinite potentiality, therefore manifestation can be infinite, too.  As this progressed, there were a number of other “koans” where a problem would come up, and then I’d be pestered by it until I had a visceral understanding of the problem.

One of these was a phrase I ran across in Adyashanti’s Emptiness Dancing: “Enlightenment is the complete lack of any resistance to what is.  Period.  End of story.”  I immediately said to myself, “there’s no way that’ll ever happen to me”.  Then one day Gabe (Cruden, Loren’s son, and my avowed “adopted” son) pointed out to me that I had already made that change.  Even though that didn’t make any sense, I immediately knew it was true.  But how could that be?  A change that massive was not even noticed by my brain, let alone explained?

At that point, I went around for some weeks thinking, “You just keep thinking, brain, that’s what your good at”.  The line is spoken by Sundance to Butch Cassidy in the movie.  In my case, my brain had definitely  completely missed one of the most momentous changes in my life.  What else had it missed?  What was it missing right now?  And how were the changes occurring?  It seemed to me this was a new mechanism for change, not just a lot of new changes.

As for the last question, eventually I realized that the changes were very subtle over quite a span of time, and above all, they came from the inside and spread outward.  In that respect, they were in complete keeping with “swallowing the molten iron ball.” They were tectonic plate shifts that affected me from my True Nature outward, but without a ripple on the surface.

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