Yuzen, a buddhist monk from the Sōtō Zen sect ...
Yuzen, a buddhist monk from the Sōtō Zen sect begging at Oigawa, Kyoto. Begging is part of the training of some Buddhist sects. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It's one thing to go around spouting off Buddhist quotes because they sound good, or because they are apt to the situation/audience (like a good Sophist does, so I try to do). It's another thing when you encounter a moment that really hits you, where you are so squarely and so completely struck that the only thing that can be thought is that everything, all of it, all the things you've been reading and thinking about for years, all those things that swim around in your head, are all true. I have never been persuaded like this before, but this happened to me in Philadelphia this past weekend.

What I thought was, or what thought me, or what struck me was this - everything is connected. This very simple propositional idea from Buddhism that is at the core of any koan, any Dharma talk, any quote, or any stura that you may come across.

A large part of my recent troubles has been brought about by my own anxiety driven desire to have a compartmentalized existence. This is clearly not only impossible, but so incredibly imaginary there is no way to make it plausible even inside the fantasy. It is a fantasy of fantasy.

The reality is that my problems are all mine, and mine alone and I get to be with them forever if I want to be. The reality is also that it's incredibly easy to blame other things for my issues. But the best reality out of all of these is that when I go a bit too far, or blame too much on external factors, the universe nicely snaps back with clean and clear reminders that I have ordered things this way.

What is actually going on though? Everything. The elements I would rather not have in my life are providing me excellent people, conversations, experiences, thoughts, and being. The things I would like to fill my life with are providing me with sadness, misery, want, lack and frustration. Of course both of these sentences can be easily flipped back and forth. So there really is no way out. Which is fine. Because "no way out" - the recognition of it, is the way out. Until you think of it that way, then the door is shut. No escape.

I know this is a bit extreme, but it was an extreme weekend. I had a great time. I was reminded of a lot. I forgot a lot. I thought a lot. I tried to speak French in front of Independence Hall. I drank a bit too much. And I was very happy to be there. Not just there at my friends' wedding but very happy to be there.

Tomorrow it's time to teach debate again, and I wonder what other connections will appear/be revealed.  There are a lot of vehicles toward realization, and teaching debate seems to be the one I am in right now.
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