For Granted

In life we are given what we need to survive. What we do with what we are giving constitutes the essence of our existence. We cannot take this for granted because it is the most important concept. To often we view the world as a set of circumstances happening to us or around us. We never consider how we are also happing to the world. I have taken this for granted.

For as long as I can remember I have viewed the world and I have viewed my life as something that is happening to me. An experience outside the realm of my own control. But in reality nothing could be farther from the truth. I am happening to the world, the world is happening to me, but we require one another in order to know in which direction we should travel next.

I hope that the error in my ways has not set me to far off the path that I once understood so clearly. I hope that in taking people for granted I have not lost them. It is strange that in a moment you can feel everything change. A shifting of light illuminating unseen angles and dispersing dark shadows. I know now what I knew then but I was not strong enough to understand. What does that mean? That means that at one point in my life I had every opportunity and in that opportunity I saw the answer. Although I was beset by defeat, loss, and death on all sides I knew that inside myself ringing with a profound solidarity was a sense of hope. But I blotted it out with drugs, with pain, and with time. Perhaps I was not ready to accept that meaning is not some concrete entity. It is not in a book, or a word, a bottle or a thought. Meaning is what you are willing to make out of the concept of meaning itself.

There is a story that better illustrates what I am trying to say here. In Japan, maybe two thousand years ago, in a Buddhist temple the head monk gathered a meeting. At this meeting he announced that a new temple was to be built in a nearby village and it was his charge to select who from that gathering would become the head monk of that temple. The master Bodhavista set a jug of water on a table at the head of the temple and said “Whoever can best describe the Buddha nature of this jug, shall be the new leader of the temple.” Each monk came up to the master and tried their best at illuminating his understanding of the masters teachings. They quoted koans and recited poetry, they tried to impress the master with their knowledge. When it came time for the cook monk, the lowliest position in the monastery, to show his understanding he said nothing to the master. He simply knocked the jug from its place and let the water spill unto the floor.

What this story brings to light, in only the way that Buddhist text can, is that regardless of how much knowledge we have accumulated and regardless of our position in life it is often the simplest answers that will lead us in the proper direction. The cook monk recognized the Buddha nature of the jug had nothing to do with any specific teaching, he recognized that the teachings themselves were just an attempt to call attention to things that could not be described by words. The Buddha nature of the jug was not some abstract concept. It was usefulness.

Now I will stop preaching. The point that I am trying to make here is that I have been banging my fucking head against the wall for years now trying to find some outlet that would alleviate my frustration with life. Trying to enhance and comprehend the experience. But in doing this perhaps I was missing the point entirely. In doing this I was taking for granted what was always right in front of me. My family, my friends, my home, the love that I have for writing and for music, the hope that I hold for the prosperity of all those things. Is that not enough? Does that not constitute a life that is of great value.

It is strange how in a moment you can feel everything change. How a shifting of light can illuminating unseen angles and disperse dark shadows.


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