One must not perform the mystery of the ineffable and invisible power through visible and corruptible things of creation, nor that of the unthinkable and immaterial beings through sensible and corporeal things. Perfect salvation is the cognition itself of the ineffable greatness: for since through “Ignorance” came about “Defect” and “Passion,” the whole system springing from the Ignorance is dissolved by knowledge. Therefore knowledge is salvation of the inner man; and it is not corporeal, for the body is corruptible; nor is it psychical, for even the soul is a product of the defect and is as a lodging to the spirit; spiritual therefore must also be [the form of] salvation. Through knowledge, then, is saved the inner, spiritual man; so that to us suffices the knowledge of universal being: this is the true salvation.
Practice all you like, stand on your head for 2 hours a day, do all sorts of austerities, none will bring you to truth, but they will give you the mental strength required to attain the knowledge of truth. Know this difference.
Zen teaching is the same, as are many others. In Zen practice we follow the breath, just follow. There are other practices, but this is the main one, it is also the practice the Buddha used to attain his great liberation, enlightenment.
It is in not looking, but in seeing, that we attain the objective view of reality.
I have written 4 different lessons today. They all reflect and relate to each other. I struggle as we all do to find this objective view, and it is right here in front of all of us.
A Zen teacher put it nicely to me recently. He said that our true nature is there, it exists regardless of what we think or do. This is what the teachings tell us, that we are already perfect. Quoting 2 lines that I often think of by Zen Master Hakuin Zengi; “This earth where we stand is the pure lotus land, and this very body, the body of Buddha.”
The problem is that we are ignoring our true nature. It is there, but we ignore it. We occupy ourselves with the many distractions of life, and I am no exception. I love to go to movies and play backgammon. These are distractions that often, as hard as I try to stay present, loose myself in. I forget and ignore my true nature.
It is not only that the world is painful that distracts us from seeing our true nature, but that it is pleasurable. The pleasures in life can be so enticing that we loose ourselves in them. This is very tricky because I do not want you to misunderstand the teaching as many people do and think that you must cut out all pleasures, that is not correct.
What you must cut out are not the pleasures, but the getting lost in them. Experience what you will, but be present when you do.
The experiences are like the studies and ceremonies or practices, they are all distractions. We do them in the thought of finding the true nature, but if we get lost in them, then we ignore our true nature in favor of paying attention to the ceremony or practice or pleasure. And that is where the seeker gets lost.
So the Gnostic teaching tells us as others also do, that it is not in knowing 100 Tai Chi forms that makes you a master or in knowing the Koran by heart, but in knowing your true nature which cannot be conveyed or discussed or even realized in your own mind in words.
Know that with all you do in your day that the purpose is to know the invisible truth that lies within you and within all your actions that is plainly in your sight. Who is doing? It is so clear that it becomes invisible, this is why it is invisible, because it is so clear, pure. Have you ever seen someone, or yourself, walk right into a window or glass door? The glass exists but it is so clear that you could not see it. This is your true nature.
The nature of your real self is that it is pure and clear, it has no pollutants or defilements. These things are attached to the outside of your nature and form your personality and karma which forms who you are in this human life. The nature itself is not altered or defiled in any way. What happens is that these pollutants which are basically your desires and thoughts and fears are like dirt on the window. You see them but not the clear glass.
Since we are normally foolish when we are limited to our human form, we focus on the dirt and not the purity. Here lies the essence of the teachings and where your efforts must be placed to find your true nature. Look past the dirt, see it and clean it, but know that it is there only because it has something to stick to. What is it that it is sticking to? That is your true nature, the true nature of Mind, of Being, reality.
Try this little exercise. Find a window of very high quality glass, so clear that when you clean it you cannot see it at all. Get it that clean and then smudge it in one little place with your hand so that it is not dirt but just an oil smudge. Then in another spot a bit away from the first, put a small area of something dirty, brown, easy to see. Look at this window and focus on each smudge for a minute or two, then at the clear part of the glass, and go back and forth. See if the concept of the invisible becomes more visible to your mind. While you do this, remember what you are and what you are not.
You are what you cannot see because you ignore it in favor of looking at what you can see, because what you can see is more obvious and distracting.
Meditation and other practices are there to strengthen your mind so that you can focus on what is less obvious rather than what is most obvious. See the subtle cause behind all things.
The perfectly clear mind is ever present and can never be destroyed, dirt is temporary and can be removed. Look for the permanent rather than the temporary by seeing the temporary, or all things, as temporary and removable or dissolvable over time. When you can face all things with saying, ‘This too shall pass’ when in pain, regret, joy, remember they are all just smudges on your permanent nature and will fade in time. If you could be clear on this, they would fade quicker and you would suffer less. The enlightened masters differ only by speed, theirs vanish instantly.
When the dirt does not have a chance to stick, the vision of self remains clear and you will know who you are and you will answer the question in the other lessons of today. It is not so complicated, although it is difficult. You wash your hands, now wash your mind. Brain wash yourself without putting anything back in. This is the knowledge you need.
In this you will eventually find your true nature, but on the way you will eliminate negative emotions, find contentment, improve relationships (at least on your side), increase your business, financial and work situation and possibilities, and basically improve the quality of your life in a manner that is long lasting and of a deeper nature.