W o K     :     Ways of Knowing

A Virtual Seminar


Becoming Friends with Phenomena

We can move from love and friendship for our family members to larger and larger circles, including our tribe, including all of humanity, including animals, including the whole biosphere, all of ecology. But we can be even more radical: we can becoming friends with all phenomena.

What that means is not so easy to point out. I introduced the idea as a way to work with the working hypothesis that nothing needs to be reached or achieved, since all is already complete and there is no reason to hang on to past-present-future progression in time or any strict identification with anything. I illustrated this with four quotations, starting with a Persian poet:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival. 
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. 
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

                                  Rumi (1207 -- 1273)

I then moved on to a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, author of Love of Knowledge from which the following piece was taken, which served as the inspiration for the title of my talk:

Without commitments to particular ways of knowing,
knowledge itself becomes newly available -- not as
the outcome of a structured activity to which a
particular model can be applied, but as an uncontrived,
natural capacity within being.  Space and time themselves
are transformed through the infusion of knowledge into
all appearance.  All presentations are understood as
dynamic and alive -- friends to human being.

The prevailing tendency in modern knowledge has moved
away from the possibility that appearance could be the
friend of human being.  Space itself is understood as
a void and time as a relentlessly unfolding force.
Human aspirations confront the emptiness of space and
the power of time with a wary apprehension.

                                          Tarthang Tulku (1934 -- )

My next quote was from a Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher:

As Rinzai said:

In this five-foot lump of red flesh there is a true
person of no rank always coming in and going out;
if you have not seen it yet, see it now!

...It is always coming and going in and out of our body.
When it goes out, if we see a flower, we become a flower;
when we hear a beautiful bird's song, we become a singing bird.
When we go within, we are hungry, sleepy, hot, and cold.
There is a true master like that within each of us. 

We see a river and we are flowing without pause.
We see the sky full of stars and we become it all.
We dive into the suffering of all people, into society's miseries.
Within this is a true person of no rank.

                                          Shodo Harada (1940 -- )

And finally I provided a very simple recipe, given by a Indian Buddhist teacher:

Let go of what has passed
Let go of what may come
Let go of what is happening now

Don't try to figure anything out
Don't try to make anything happen

Relax, right now, and rest

                                  Tilopa (988 -- 1069)

Piet Hut

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