So this experience, every wonderful thing that happens
to you, you have to be ready and able to let it go. Because the
basic rule is, and this is just good old fashioned Buddhism that
I am talking here, the basic rule, and it applies in every religion
in the world, it clears the air if we really admit that what we
are dealing with here is religion. We are not dealing here with
this area of therapy, which is something that goes on only at
the personal and interpersonal level. How can I get along with
my boss? How can I get along with my employees? How can I get
better communication with my spouse? How can I get better communication
with my parents? Or my children? Or how can I get over this? Or
over that? The personal. And that is what has to be cleared out.
That has to be taken care of. And that has to be worked with.
But what do you do after you have taken care of that., after you
have worked with that, then what? It is like the man whose goal
is to have ten million dollars and he works very hard and diligently
and devotes himself to it day and night and by the time he is
forty years old he has got ten million dollars. Okay. He has got
it. What now? He can bust his ass getting another ten million.
Lots of people do because its all they know how to do. What then?
So you have worked through all your personal stuff. What now?
Is that all there is?
So the first rule is: Everything is transient. That is the first thing we have to know. Everything is transient. And that may be at times a source for some sadness. But even the sadness doesn't have to be very deep because that which passes, comes again. If some beautiful thing passed and were replaced by some ugly thing, and that ugly thing would remain forever, then we would be in the soup, but it is not that way. The beautiful thing passes and is replaced by the ugly thing, and then the ugly thing passes. Now that enables us actually find strength in the knowledge that everything passes, that nothing is permanent.
If you look at your question toward me, I think that behind it you will see a little thing of, "How do I make this permanent?" Or how do I get some kind of permanency out of it. There is no permanency. Let it go. And what might stay with you is a kind of permanency is the knowledge that this has come, and I can let it go, and it can come again, and it can come again, and it can come again, and it can come again, and it can come again. But the idea of entering that state to stay in it, then you are just freezing yourself into another situation. And that state would become, after ten thousand years in heaven, singing praises and twanging on your harp, you start to get awfully bored. John Milton says, in Paradise Lost, something like " the mind has its own eye and can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven." I'm not quoting that accurately. From Paradise Lost, where Satan in book two of Paradise Lost,
"High on the throne of royal state
Which far outshone the wealth of him
who would with royal lavish hand
... showers its kings with barbaric pearl and gold
Satan exalted sat
by merit raised to that bad eminence that first defied
the omnipotent to arms." (this is not accurately transcribed)
The opening lines. And then a little later when Satan is talking to all these devils who have been thrown out of heaven and are down there with him and they are all suffering and crying and moaning and he says, "What are you crying about? We are the absolute rulers here." It is a matter of how you look at it. The mind can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven. And that is exactly what we are looking at.
So this knowledge that everything is impermanent is not a cause for grieving and gnashing of teeth because nothing beautiful ever lasts. And some people take that view. It means nothing bad ever lasts. And look at it from that point of view. And that means that if nothing bad ever lasts, then the good must come. So the bad, you can say it is a hell of a world where I am constantly losing the good things, giving them up and bad things are taking over. It is not the way it works! All the bad things that happen to you are constantly being lost and being replaced by something better. It is a re-framing to that point of view, you see. So this experience you had is nothing to cling to. Nothing to cling to, and say I've got to make this into a technique so that I can reproduce this.
In fact, insofar as you get a technique, part of
the technique would be knowing that you could do that. That in
itself, knowing that you could do that, you know that you could
do that 100 times. You may not be able to do that at will, but
that autonomous process is set up. And you never know when the
messenger is going to arrive, and bow, and say, "I've been
ordered by a great king to give you this gift. Here it is. A jewel
of great price. It might happen in the next thirty seconds.
Cl: Be sober be watchful.
Dick: . . No it didn't happen in that thirty seconds, but that doesn't mean that it might not in the next thirty seconds. This is the significance of that parable in the New Testament of the seven foolish virgins and the seven wise virgins. You know in those days, when there was a wealthy man, he owned his village. And he would marry someone, he would marry some daughter of some lord who owned the village over there. And when that marriage was arranged, and this is still done in some parts of the world, with an entourage, and present himself and the father of the bride would give him the bride and they would be married there and that would take all day long, and then at the end of the day, they would all travel back with the entourage, and he would be bringing his bride back with him to his own house and there he would have a great feast. And of course if you missed a feast in those days, you didn't just miss a dinner, which for many people was very, very important. They were eating oatmeal for dinner most days, dried bread of whatever it was. And a dinner with stuffed lamb! You not only ate the dinner but you took home a bushel basket full of leavings. That is what happened at the celebration of Dennis Bank's son's birthday where they butchered a cow. They butchered a cow and roasted it and passed the meat, and when everybody had been stuffed, fed, then everybody lined up with all kinds of containers, and they were just full and they took it home. And not only that but the guests would be given new clothes. They would be given robes of honor just for the occasion. A great man could afford that. And he would give them gold rings and sums of moneys. It wasn't just that you had a good dinner, you know. And it only came once every four or five years. So when, according to the parable, there were 12 wise and 12 foolish virgins, I think 12 was the number. And they were at the outskirts of the village and each one had a lamp. And the bridegroom with his bride and his party would arrive late at night, maybe one o clock in the morning. And these virgins, who were specially chosen, would have their lighted lamps and they would sing, and would escort the man and his wife into their house. They would all go in. And they would all have this huge feast, which might go on for several days. Well, there were 12 foolish virgins and they got very, very sleepy, and they fell asleep and their lamps went out. They didn't trim their wicks they didn't keep the oil replenished. And there were 12 wise virgins and they stayed awake even though they got very, very, sleepy. Pinched themselves, you know. Kept replenishing the oil, trimming the wicks. Finally, very late at night the bridegroom and bride appeared and the twelve wise virgins were wide awake with their lamps lit and they began to sing his praises, and he smiles, invites them all in, and they all accompany him in and they all sit down for this big feast.
The twelve foolish virgins had fallen asleep and their lamps had gone out. So they were just left out there in the dark. And after a while, they woke up. They realized that the party was going on inside and they went and banged on the door, and said, "Let us in, let us in." And the bridegroom came to the door, and he said, "Whose there?" And they said, "We are twelve virgins who were appointed to be part of your wedding party." And he said, "Go away, I don't know you! The ones who were appointed to honor me are here. You are strangers. Close the door and get out of here or I will set the dogs on you." The moral of that is: "You never know when the bridegroom is coming, you never know when you are going to be presented at last with the fulfillment of what you have been looking for, so don't go to sleep. Stay Awake! And of course with Western efficiency, what we want to do, and with our reliance on what we call science, which is really not science, it is Scientism, if we just know how it works, we can make it happen. We have the idea that we can call the bridegroom in whenever we feel like it. We don't know. We have to stay awake. That is, you have to practice self remembering. You have to keep looking at that plant, at that person, at that landscape, at that cockroach that just crawled out of the woodwork, at that poisonous snake, at that beautiful flower, whatever it is, you have to keep looking at it, or that experience that you had with the attitude: "What more is there that I am not getting. And with the prayer: Let me see it as it is. Let me cross this bridge of what is apparently real to the reality. And I give thanks for this learning opportunity. Even if I am not bright enough to learn from it. I give thanks for the opportunity. I am full of gratitude. And that is where it is. So you see what I am saying? What are you experiencing right now?
Cl: Gratitude for what
Dick: Yeah, and of course as I am saying all this to you, I am really not talking about you and your experience at all, I am talking about myself, you see. I am talking about myself. So here I am, I will be 79 years old in about five or six days, and I am still trimming my wick. Checking the oil level. Doing my best to stay awake. Whenever I catch myself nodding off, I pinch myself. "Wake up! Wake up!" And you don't wake up to something that is wonderful and strange, you just wake up to the ordinary. To the ordinary. The Japanese, some of the Zen people, refer to it as the Suchness of things. To really like to wake up and experience what that is really like. That so and so is such an experience. It is not that, it is not that, it is not that. Suchness. And you never know when you are going to see one more cockroach crawling out of the woodwork, and when you are going to see the jeweled scarab that is worth ten million dollars, figuratively speaking. You never know. You never know. Don't hold your breathe, because it might be a long, long time. But don't fall asleep because it might be in the next thirty seconds. (Dick looks at his watch and waits)...... No, not that thirty seconds, but it might have! I used to say to people years ago when I was trying to make this point, I was making the same point twenty years ago but I didn't understand and comprehend it as completely as I do now. I realize it with a greater depth, a greater maturity I suppose. I used to say, "Who knows what will happen in the next thirty seconds? The little white dog that my father brought home when I was three years old, brought home in his overcoat pocket, little tiny puppy. That was my companion for about thirteen years. That little dog might suddenly walk in the door. Wait. No, it didn't happen. But it might happen in the next thirty seconds, so keep looking, keep awake! Capiche?
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