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Sunya&Tathata#6-Too close to the mirror!!!

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  • Gabriel Hartnell
    Sunya and Tathata#6- Too close to the mirror!! Sunya despaired as she her little sister walked her through a grove of sprightly oaks which trembled in the
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 2000
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      Sunya and Tathata#6- Too close to the mirror!!

      Sunya despaired as she her little sister walked her through a grove
      of
      sprightly oaks
      which trembled in the slight wind as if to wisper some melodic sutra
      which only the
      spiritually adpet could understand.
      The sun was out, the weather was not too hot, not too cold, the
      scenery was adylic.
      Why was she despairing so?

      She craned her neck to make out the prestine form of Wat Buddhipadipa
      through the
      gentle archway of swaying trees and was suddenly struck by the
      stangeness of all this.
      A beutifully crafted, gloriously decorated Eastern temple placed here
      in the middle of
      urban London surrounded by a canopy of shimmering trees which almost
      fooled the
      casual visitor that they had really somehow been transported to a
      remote countryside
      monestry where quiet contemplation really was an expected part of
      everyday life.
      The sound of silence appeared somehow to blare out what should have
      been an all
      pervading din of traffic from the main road just a moment's walk away.
      Mabye they really had been transported magicall to a faraway land,
      symbolically at
      least.

      Sunya rubbed her tired eyes and admonished herself for thinking she
      could really do
      with a cigerette right now. She got like that when she was nervous-
      jittery. But the
      thought of turning up to a seminar held by a genuine, orange robed,
      bald headed
      monk with a fag in her mouth was hardly a reassuring concept.
      Here she was with her sunken, withdrawal symptom affected eyes and
      her
      pouting noir
      gothic dress sense, and her little sis in puritanical white complete
      with lovingly platted
      hair and an innocent yet warming smile which should have been gracing
      kids cartoon
      characters- looking every bit a monk herself.
      Sunya brushed her chaotic black locks back in an attempt to rescue
      some semblance
      of order and sanity from her apperance but just ended up thinking she
      looked like
      something out of one of those Ricki Lake makeover shows where punk
      chics go in at
      the whim of fussy mothers and end up appearing not quite prim and
      proper but more
      like utterly ridiculous.
      Sanity didn't suit her, so why try to embrace it? Wasn't that
      resisting your nature? And
      since we're all Buddha, isn't that resisting your Buddha nature?
      Sunya, in her limited experience, had persauded herself she was
      right,
      although she
      had more trouble believing that an ancient, ritual oriented, morally
      bound old monk
      would accept her as a Buddha-to-be. He'd proabably have her arrested
      there and then
      or burned at the stake as a witch, or something...

      "So what is this place- Tibetan?" Sunya hadn't quite got her
      geography
      straight. If they
      had been transported to another land, it would be advisable to know
      where they were.
      OK, so it wasn't like Tathata had dragged her here- she wished she
      had, but there was
      that old adage about people having to walk the path themselves,
      wasn't
      there. She had
      just shown Sunya the door. Was it wise to walk through it?
      "Thai."
      "But... we arn't Thai."
      "No."
      "I mean, I though you had to be Thai- you know- like in the martial
      arts movies-
      Chinese will only teach Chinese and that. You sure they'll teach us?"
      Tathata clasped her hands together as if in prayer and managed to
      listen to both a
      warbling bird's eloquent tune and her sister's incessant self
      effacing
      worrying
      symultainiously, but allowed Sunya to do the talking.
      "Tath, you sure you wanna bring me here? I mean, you think they'll
      let
      me in?" Sunya
      usually had an at least respectable opinion of herself, but she
      looked
      bad against
      someone holy. It was bad enough at home on the rare occasions that
      the
      family sat
      down to eat together and she could tell mother was glancing
      intermittently at her and
      Tathata- comparing them.
      "Suni- you have as much right to be here as anyone else. You are as
      much Buddha as I
      am- as anyone is. Nobody's going to compare anyone to anyone else,
      and
      even if they
      did, who's to say who is more 'holy'?"
      Sunya did a double take- "Are you reading my mind? I know you lot and
      your little
      tricks."
      Tathata giggled as a fourteen year old is supposed to and reassured
      her sister that
      "There's no tricks, and if there were and I knew them, I wouldn't use
      them on you."
      Sunya frowned. That was only mildly reassuring.

      Sunya tried in vein to concentrate in the vividly coloured meditation
      hall, which
      admittedly was quite a challenge. Every inch of wall space, every
      edge
      and corner,
      every spot of wall and ceiling were covered with lovingly produced,
      microscopically
      detailed art. Scenes dipicting the story of Buddha's life and
      enlightenment- some
      matter-of-fact, some surreal, some methaphorical.
      Intertwinging hues of radient reds and golds, of deep purples and
      violets which
      seemed to touch her soul, with peaceful yellows and heart warming
      blues.
      Painted in a combination of modern symbolic surrealism and
      traditional
      religious
      iconography, the scene was mesmorising to the wide eyed Sunya.
      It was as if she had stepped into another world. It was as if this
      was
      reality now and all
      the rest was an illusion- an art. That it was the outside world that
      was painted on
      canvus and this that was real, because try as she might to persuade
      herself that this
      entire spectacle was simply a collection of well applied brush
      strokes, it was this soul
      searching, deeply welcoming world which was the real one.

      Surrounded by cross legged students strangely dressed in a variety of
      clothes from
      normal everyday street togs to regal-yet-humble looking priest's
      robes, the first thing
      that struck Sunya was how normal these people looked.
      Old and young, of varying races, shapes, sizes, sexes and demenours.
      Funny that such a wildly assorted collection of people would group
      together in such a
      bizzare but homely place for the same thing- to listen to an at first
      stern looking old
      man lecture them on ethics, practices and the makeup of the universe,
      or whatever he
      was going to say.
      Why come to such an adylic setting just to shut your eyes anyway?
      Sunya nudged her attentive looking sister an knowingly popped a chunk
      of chewing
      gum into her mouth, surprisingly not effecting a condemning reaction.
      This was going to be boring. Chewing would keep her awake.

      The monk Vihara began by slapping his hands together like a pair of
      cymbals.
      That would keep Sunya awake. In fact in made her jump. Tathata
      indulged herself a
      wry smile.
      "What is the meaning of enlightenment?" Vihana began, making Sunya's
      eyes widen. At
      least he was getting straight to the point...
      "THIS!" Vihana held out a thumb, causing Sunya to emit an audible
      'HUH?'
      Undeterred, the monk continued his monologue- "All truths are here.
      All things; all
      places, all people. The one is all things, and all things are the
      one.
      The many have one
      essence, and the one had many manifestations. Everything is
      different,
      but at the same
      time, everything is made of the same thing. There is no difference
      between a finger and
      a building, a finger and a continent, a finger and another human
      being"
      Sunya was beginning to get confused. In normal circumstances, when
      her
      sister
      uttered such strange proclaimations, she could laugh them off. She
      could avoid the
      stark possibility that they could be true. But when this master- this
      'official' said, them,
      they seemed to hold more weight- she couldn't really deny them,
      because why would
      he lie and was he likely to be wrong?
      Furthermore, she couldn't see anyone else in the hall doubting him.
      She didn't want everything to be everything, normally at least- she
      liked every thing to
      be something else- something she could break down and understand.
      Funny that right
      here in this environment, it was kind of reassuring- kind of like a
      weight off her
      shoulders- to contemplate all being one.

      Vihana went on-
      "If we stand too close to a mirror, we can't see anything. If we
      stand
      too far away, we
      can't see anything either. We can bog ourselves down making life too
      strict and forget
      the point of what we are doing. We can become too complacent and step
      back too far-
      loosing the point completely."
      Sunya raised a timid finger. Perhaps she wasn't supposed to do this,
      but she just felt
      strangely inquisitive. Afterall, wasn't it better to ask questions
      than to just sit and try to
      think about nothing? As long as she wasn't being impertinent.
      Vihana offered her a yeilding nod-
      "Um... Mr. priest... um... sir?"
      Vihana almost cringed into a shrug- "Please call me Vihana."
      "Um... Vihana sir..." Sunya hadn't called anyone 'sir' in her life,
      but this character
      appeared to demand some kind of respect... without ever wanting to-
      "You mean
      morality, right- what we should do and what we shouldn't? You're
      saying, basically...
      morality sucks, right?"
      Vihana moved his head in what could equallly be construed as a nod or
      a shake- "Over
      indulgent morality could quite conceivably... 'suck'."
      "But you've got a moral code, right- I mean, you're not off to the
      pub
      after this, are
      you?" Sunya was on a roll- she'd got a question right... probably.
      "I am a monk. My moral code is my moral code."
      "And that makes you better- cleaner; more spiritual?"
      "No, it just makes me me."
      Sunya was a little confused- "So wait a minate- you're saying that
      what's right for you
      isn't necissarily right for me, and what's right for me isn't
      necissarily right for you?"
      Meanwhile, Tathata's smile was widening. Her sister was growing
      curious about the
      whys and wherefores of the world- she wasn't taking anything at face
      value- she was
      doubtling. Doubting is the first step to realisation. A person can't
      know the truth if they
      are not prepared to test it against the alternatives.
      Vihana noticed this also- "We are all a part of the whole-
      intertwined; dependent. But
      me being a monk does not make me more of the whole than you are. Me
      being a monk
      does not make me superior- does not mean I know and you do not.
      Ethics
      are a
      personal thing. Though most good people will follow the same rough
      guidelines, if you
      are not comfortable with something, you should change it. The trick
      lies in learning
      how to know if you are comfortable with something or not."
      "So..." Sunya was at first relieved that her smoking, drinking, late
      night partying and so
      on and so forth wern't necissarily outlawed by Buddhist morality, but
      suddenly it
      struck her that actually she didn't want to do these things anymore,
      and that she
      would choose to exclude them from her new, fledgling ethical
      lifestyle
      now that she
      realised she indeed wasn't comfortable with them any longer, and had
      perhaps never
      truly been.
      "So... if we do what we feel we should and nobody can dictate it to
      us, and if our path
      is our path and not necissarily anyone else's. what's the meaning of
      all this? What's
      enlightenment all about?'
      Vihana stretched out an arm and revealed one upturned thumb- "THIS!"


      NEXT PART SOON- EITHER NEXT WEEK OR THE FOLLOWING
      Comments/ suggestions please to
      gabriel.hartnell@...
      OR TO THE E-GROUP!
      (And if anyone would like to take a look at my (very difficult) quasi
      spiritual sci fi ish
      novel 'Samsara', its on my website)
      http://www.fortunecity.co.uk/southbank/spiritual/238
      Oh, sorry- that was a bit of an advert!!!
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