Tuesday, March 10, 2009

reliable old me

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Every morning, I wake up and rush around like an ant on a hot griddle: Yes, here is the worry I had yesterday; yes, here is the thought or set of thoughts I had yesterday; yes, here is the fear and sadness and enjoyment; yes, here is the laundry list of things I have to do today; yes ... I seem to be all there.

And yet in sleep, I wasn't concerned with all this. I slept and perhaps dreamed and, with luck, woke up refreshed ... ready to run around and recreate the 'I' who, a few hours before, wasn't so necessary at all. What was reliable by day is irrelevant by night.

Reliable old me.

In Buddhism, I think it's a bit spooky at first. Intellectually, the newcomer is drawn to what is clearly true: Everything changes. And not only does it change, but it changes all the time. Intellectually, this is as plain as the nose on your face. But in actual-factual fact, it is not an easy pill to swallow. If 'I' change all the time, then what I had considered an I is not reliable... and the mindset of the past, that which gave meaning and ease, is thrown into a cocked hat. However emotional or intellectual I may want to get ... still, it's just not so ... and it may be spooky at an experiential level: If everything changes, nothing is reliable. And the fact is that I want to rely on something... even as I realize that relying on things is a mug's game. It can all feel like quite a threat. And Buddhists may say, "The ego is just scared." And maybe it's true. The obvious truth insists; the well-worn habits resist.

Unreliable old me. It's a kool thing to say. It's not quite so kool in practice.

But with practice -- with a steady attention -- I think things can turn out OK.

Every morning I wake up and race around finding the bits and pieces that offer some reliable setting, some definition and hand-hold, some reliable me. But with practice, maybe it's not so much of a burden. It's just me, after all -- just the one who longs for something reliable, just the one who weeps for answers, just the one who fears and insists ... it's just like the sunrise, isn't it? -- it happens and it's not that big a deal. It's just what happens. No need to rail against the light with words like "illusion" and "ignorance." It's just what happens ... like sleep ... like sunrise.

Reliable old me.

Or not.
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