The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Last night, while D & I were talking about Life, Ziggy, my 4 inch , energetic little Koi, made a break for Freedom.  We heard a delicate  splash, a flip flopping sound, and turned to find Ziggy jumping on the deck like a cartoon fish!
It being a gorgeous August night, with a nice meal and a bottle of wine enjoyed under the stars, we just sat and looked at him for a little too long....finally I sprang into action.
I grabbed his slippery body and threw him back into his big goldfish bowl, then dipped several glasses of water out of the bowl, hoping that might keep him from further experiments with Freedom.
We wondered, if we hadn't been sitting right there, how long it would have taken for Ziggy to die, and then what?  What sort of Freedom might await him in death?  What sort of Freedom might await us?
It was sort of funny that Ziggy jumped out as our thoughts turned to Life and Love, about shared companionship over months and years, and of the inherent difficulties of domesticity, as well as the obvious and not so obvious joys. 
And how like Life & Love!  
You're swimming around minding your own business in your giant fishbowl, and suddenly everything changes, whether you meant for it to or not, and you find yourself flopping around like a cartoon, obviously out of your element, gasping for breath!  Damn! 

I mean, how many times do any of us consider an action that might bring a perception of Freedom, (our own version of jumping out of the big fishbowl), only to realize, in time, that leaving one fishbowl merely leads to another,  perhaps with a different view, a different set of hopes and expectations, but a fishbowl just the same.
And so we often find ourselves in a state of comparing this or that, creating aversions, compiling pleasures, living with distinctions of differences, never realizing the ultimate unity of what is all around us.
We function in the grip of "what if", either/or, strong, strong duality, believing we are separate.  
And what about Ziggy?  His living is either in water or it's not living.  But he doesn't consider being separate from the water in which he swims.  The cardinal that comes to the sunflowers doesn't consider being separate from the air in which he flies.  Only humans have the capacity to make distinctions of being separate, and it causes us to suffer.
Pema Chodron urges, "Don't bite the hook!", but how often do we find ourselves spinning a random thought into a web of imagined reality, ready to act, to jump out of the goldfish bowl and into a full blown illusion that appears so true.  Our minds take us to this precipice time and time again, and we never tire of the act of pursuing a phantom, sometimes tumbling over the edge in our energetic ignorance.
Shakyamuni Buddha said, and I paraphrase, suffering is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.
And so our conversation, deep into a summer evening, about Life, is punctuated by a fish jumping out of his bowl and flopping helplessly around the deck.  We had to laugh.  How like our own urges and occasional ill conceived actions.
Before going to bed, D found a roll of screen and placed it over the goldfish bowl for the night, but this morning we removed it and then just got on with the day.
Whatever Ziggy does is not within our control.  Whatever we do, hopefully, with practice, is!
This Buddhist, beyond hoping, can only practice, and in the practice is the connection to everything.

props to Professor Apostle, Aristotle & Plato!

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