Tag Archives: soul

And then, a new experience

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This happens again and again.

A word, a phrase, I have heard hundreds of times, in dharma talks, and so on. Read hundreds of times, in sutras and other texts. This word, today, is “stream.”

Again and again, I have remembered the words of Plato, quoting Heraclitus:

“You could not step twice into the same river.”

Again and again I have heard that life is a stream — the world that is true, all existence, and each sentient being is an ever-flowing stream. We are not the same from one day to the next, from one moment to the next. And I have known, for a long time, that my understanding of this truth is only, was only, an intellectual understanding. I knew I had not attained it, although I believed it, and my mind, my mind understood it.

And then today, thanks to a little text in a magazine (shown above), it entered into me with enormous clarity. I understood it for the first time. It was crazy — I cannot explain exactly how it was different, but it was — so very, very different.

And it lasted only moments. Some moments. I’m left with a kind of vestige of that realization. I am more than I was before, but I am not the same as I was in that moment.

“… I shall liberate them all. And though I thus liberate countless beings, not a single being is liberated.

“And why not? Subhuti, a bodhisattva who creates the perception of a being cannot be called a ‘bodhisattva.’ And why not? Subhuti, no one can be called a bodhisattva who creates the perception of a self or who creates the perception of a being, a life, or a soul.”

— The Diamond Sutra, part 3 (p. 3 — trans. Red Pine, 2001)

I have meditated on this again and again, again and again. Today, for a moment, I attained it.

Now, back to work.

Breathe.

Shen: Spirit, heart, mind

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I heard about Shen from an acupuncturist. She practices in the Five Elements tradition — that is to say, a traditional school of Chinese medicine.

I was intrigued by the idea of Shen when she told me that a medical practitioner looks into a patient’s eyes to assess the Shen. “What do you see there?” I asked. She said that it’s the strength of human spirit.

State of the Shen is said to be visible in the eyes. Healthy Shen produces bright, shining eyes, with vitality. Disturbed Shen produces dull eyes, which seem to have a curtain in front of them — as if no one were behind them. Often seen in those with long-term emotional problems or after serious shock (even a shock that occurred a long time ago). Source: Sacred Lotus Arts

That made me think of something Brad Warner wrote in his most recent book (which I have lent out, so I can’t quote it exactly). Referring to someone who had died, he said the same thing that used to look out from her eyes is what looks out from my eyes and your eyes.

Yes, exactly.

Breathe.