I place a toothpick between my teeth,
relax, and stare off into the distance.
Everything to see and be is included
in the space between myself and that.
Some say it’s all merely imaginary figments
to which we tend to grant solidity, based on
a conjunction of prior causes and conditions.
Maybe that’s true, or maybe it’s not —
let those who give a damn sort it all out.
I’m done with their religions.
In any case, for the human race,
that’s not our real problem —
if we care to look, this is:
we divide the world into what we love
and what we hate, what we crave
and what we avoid, what we want
and what we don’t, what we hope for
and what we fear, what we adore
and what we abhor, what we cling to
and what we flee, what we worship
and what we unreservedly curse.
This is called “making a difficult thing worse.”
Although there are many fascinating things
which we can do with this amazing body,
such as moving from place to place or
standing on one’s head, or reaching up
and bending down, climbing over rocks,
or touching another body with a soft caress,
and although there are many modifications
to thought, memory, and perception which
we can accomplish with this marvelous mind,
such as concentrating, relaxing, projecting,
dissolving, and focusing inwardly or outwardly,
and although there is certainly plenty more
that could be said about any of it, isn’t it better
to sit down, stop speaking, and keep silent?
Yes, perhaps you might agree, but then look:
despite our very best intent, the streaming mind
cannot stay still for long in that quiet state.
Just so, if we say this mind is a mere nothing, see
how it jumps around like a mad little monkey.
However, if we say it is actually something, see
if you can find it anywhere and exclaim:
“Here, this is it — I’ve got it!”
Isn’t that the way it is with mind?
Such clear recognition may be the view,
but what is the appropriate conduct?
Sitting down or standing up,
speaking or remaining silent,
free from clinging or attachment,
accepting or rejecting, hope or fear,
even though a light appears brighter
than a million suns, and even though
a fragrance appears more intoxicating
than the senses can bear, and even though
a thought arises more brilliant than
any sutra or secret holy teaching, and
even though you feel sensations more
comforting than a mother’s warm touch,
and hear music more entrancing than
a symphony of some high angelic chorus,
don’t be distracted, no, don’t be distracted!
Switch the toothpick from one side to the other,
relax, and calmly stare off into the distance.
Everything for us to see and be is included
in that space between here and there.
Resist the tendency to indulge in preference.
Read that line above again.
What has preference ever brought us but stress —
chasing after a phantom composed of a mirage,
a dream within a dream, a child’s soap bubble,
and other metaphorical clichés like those?
Alternately, we could remain perfectly wide awake
in luminous emptiness, recognizing all phenomena
as our own stainless display, the purity of our own
natural innocence, and smile without any hesitation,
regardless of our present and habitual inclination
towards ignorance, boredom, doubt, and discomfort.
After all, it’s not that big a deal, but we won’t know
unless we make the effort, at least until we try.
Nobody is going to help us — not God nor Guru
nor Pastor Jim — we already have whatever we need,
and that means, my Friends, that we don’t need him.
Why go around wearing someone else’s hat
when our own hat fits just right?
When fixation on all identity is released,
what can harm us, day or night?
Resting in our native state,
we’ll simply let it be.
Then we’ll be like those happy fish
who’ve ceased searching for the sea.
We’ll no longer wonder if it’s real or not –
what a comedian, that crazy mind –
let’s leave all that behind!
When hope and fear, craving and aversion,
are severed at the root, the endless sky
is cleared of every darkening cloud —
a great day for a long walk in the woods,
with frequent stops to laugh out loud!