Sunya&Tathata#6-Too close to the mirror!!!
- Sunya and Tathata#6- Too close to the mirror!!
Sunya despaired as she her little sister walked her through a grove
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
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
casual visitor that they had really somehow been transported to a
monestry where quiet contemplation really was an expected part of
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,
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,
monk with a fag in her mouth was hardly a reassuring concept.
Here she was with her sunken, withdrawal symptom affected eyes and
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
characters- looking every bit a monk herself.
Sunya brushed her chaotic black locks back in an attempt to rescue
of order and sanity from her apperance but just ended up thinking she
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
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
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,
there. She had
just shown Sunya the door. Was it wise to walk through it?
"But... we arn't Thai."
"I mean, I though you had to be Thai- you know- like in the martial
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
symultainiously, but allowed Sunya to do the talking.
"Tath, you sure you wanna bring me here? I mean, you think they'll
me in?" Sunya
usually had an at least respectable opinion of herself, but she
someone holy. It was bad enough at home on the rare occasions that
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,
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
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
admittedly was quite a challenge. Every inch of wall space, every
every spot of wall and ceiling were covered with lovingly produced,
detailed art. Scenes dipicting the story of Buddha's life and
matter-of-fact, some surreal, some methaphorical.
Intertwinging hues of radient reds and golds, of deep purples and
seemed to touch her soul, with peaceful yellows and heart warming
Painted in a combination of modern symbolic surrealism and
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
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
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
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
That would keep Sunya awake. In fact in made her jump. Tathata
indulged herself a
"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
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
The many have one
essence, and the one had many manifestations. Everything is
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
Sunya was beginning to get confused. In normal circumstances, when
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
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-
morality, right- what we should do and what we shouldn't? You're
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
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.
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
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
now that she
realised she indeed wasn't comfortable with them any longer, and had
"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
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