She dreamed that she was talking to a group of people, looking into the eyes of all her spiritual children, when slowly, outside her control, her own eyelids closed and she could not open them ever again.
There was panic all around, urgent movements, many different fingers touching her arms and shoulders, voices of such tenderness and tears rising in the air. But she continued to talk from her sincere heart, and gradually the sobs and cries died down. She invited everyone to close their physical eyes as she spoke.
‘We need to close our physical eyes so that our inner spiritual eyes will open. For the physical eye, though a remarkable anatomical evolution and a powerful tool, sees only through the graded lenses of the ego. The material world becomes the only reality that it can perceive. It is blind to the vast invisible world which is our real home.’
It takes practice to be able to look into the physical world with spiritual eyes. To gaze without taking possession, without categorising or judging, without accumulating worldly status and merit. To perceive directly instead of interpreting, making copies. The desperate craving of the worldly human incarcerated in constant suffering while careering towards oblivion in their death is acute. They cannot let go, always hedging their bets, having reserves, in case they are left with nothing and fall into an abyss created by their terrible fear.
This way of looking can dominate in the presence of sacred images. The serene Buddha images and altar adornments are rendered permanent by the physical eyes; continual shots are taken by the acquisitive camera and then archived. The master carved sublime images of all emanations of the Buddha so that disciples could overcome this kind of obsessive greed and self-centred cherishing. The spirit does not need to rely on memories and labels, or stored images.
We have the choice to gaze on these images without greed so that they connect us firmly to the spiritual world. In this way, the spiritual eyes are wide open. Holy sculptures are manifest as permanent in their gold and bronze inside man-made temples exactly so we do not possess them. This is for our spiritual growth. The Buddha is mere energy just as we are. We give this powerful energy the name ‘Buddha’ but that label can be abused. To find enlightenment we need to let go of it and allow the power to merge with our own power. To allow all divisions disintegrate.
When will she have paid all her debts? Debt is such a negative state which worries and disturbs the natural equilibrium. Debts to parents, to masters, to husbands and wives, to employers; an endless queue of beneficiaries. They make an elaborate maze in the mind which we get trapped in. This cannot possibly lead to spiritual liberation. If we are in touch with our divine origins, if the flame is lit, then we naturally give to others, we trust unconditionally, we breathe with a genuine smile, and we truly love people because we are not separate from them. Debt makes us separate and exacerbates the suffering of samsara. It suspends us in murky water above the mud so that our lotus cannot bloom freely.
If we are motivated to practice spiritually from our thoughts, then this is flawed. Thoughts are dead things which obscure the truth: They are worthless in spiritual terms. Spirituality is living organically, is only being in the great stillness and silence. If we manufacture thoughts of a religious kind and then use them as our propeller, we are creating everything from our side. This is not the truth, the suchness, the shinnyo, but we can habitually mistake it as such.
And if we merely imitate the masters, cloning ourselves in their likeness, then we are ignorant of our individual mission, our unique spirit. The master engraves Buddha images not only in physical form, one bow for each tap of his chisel but in each disciple’s heart. We can embody that heart in each moment of our daily lives, living as Buddhas, undistracted by the trivialities of the worldly mind. This is the only way we can change the suffering world because our environment in the world of flesh is exactly a reflection of our minds. And if our minds expand into the field of consciousness, then the world will truly be a Buddha world.
She is restless in the temple precinct because she is attached to it. It has become her temple and everything is invested in it. Her living space, though full of light and the warmth of loving kindness, has become oppressive because of the outside view. Beige concrete buildings with identical balconies, impede the view so that she cannot see beyond them to the mountains. This way of viewing the environment is bedded in her DNA, has been the way of looking of her ancestors for aeons. The view reflects the mind, so she is keen to change it and live in a penthouse. Never content, and she will never be so until she lets go of physical dimensions.
May she put aside her physical eyes, open her spiritual eyes and so live with panoramic vision now and here, plum in the centre of the moment.
May she climb the temple steps of her own divine heart where ownership and mementos are unheard of.