The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
Tao Te Ching by Lao-tzu
Translated by Stephen Mitchell
The early morning sun was peeking through the fog. The light playfully danced on the backs of the ducks and geese swimming through the silvery still water. Everything seemed aglow with light—all things alive, breathing and joyously connected in mysterious, breathless stillness.
It is this dropping away of everything, even the breath, we are totally alone and at one. We are deep living emptiness – the emptiness that lies at the heart of all things. It is a placeless place where words cannot go, where words and thoughts cannot penetrate. To enter this gate, everything must die, all the thoughts, words and stories – all attachments to the more superficial contents of mind must simply fall away. Then suddenly, unexpectedly this opens to what is always here – that which was never born and can never die. The insignificance of our superficial evaluating mind is witnessed by the deeper, pure awareness of non-evaluating Mind. Then suddenly even this last sliver of self falls away. No attachments survive – no attachments to thoughts, sensations, or emotions. Here there is nothing, an utter desert of likes and dislikes. This nothing is awake, aware, nakedly aware and pure. This pure, naked awareness is the groundless ground of all being. This is meditative mind. This “seeing” emptiness is Genuine Insight. It is emptiness seeing all things arising and passing away unobstructed, unfiltered by thought, feeling, story or the thoughtful play of opposites.
“Emptiness is exactly form and form is exactly emptiness.” Nothing more, nothing less.
The moment we try to capture a living genuine insight, like a bird, it flies away. When we try to grasp it, describe it, the living experience ends and the story begins. If we attach to the story, we move from the living present moment into a dream of the past – a memory frozen in thought.
Genuine insight arises in the present moment, often in response to a deep inquiry. This is selfless inquiry deeper than thoughts, emotions and sensations. It is a deeper inquiry into the living heart of the mystery. It is a direct experiencing without the delusion of an “experiencer”. The “truth” or “what is” is continuously revealing itself, being born and dying each moment. It is beyond the dualistic views of life and death. It is nonduality itself, the perpetual mystery of continuous living birth and re-birth.
The true teachers are those who don’t believe their own words or take their stories too seriously. They simply have learned to surrender and trust the mystery that is unfolding in front of them in this naked immediate moment. They look at what is arising and then use the words to point to the genuine insights that they see. Genuine Insight is this seeing the living mystery in real time without any attachment to thoughts, words, feelings or stories. It is the Tao that is eternal.
The illusion that we are separate selves is what is born and dies. Genuine insight is that which looks from the empty mind and open heart of the eternal Tao. It is the seeing that sees through the illusion of a permanent self. In Zen, it is what the phrase “die before you die” is pointing to. Genuine insight is a deep transformation of perspective. From this selfless, Self, there is no separate “you” to experience anything; you are the looking that looks, the “emptiness that sees”. You are that universal Mind in which all experiences are continuously being born and dying. All experiences including this separate sense of self, the “you” which also arises and passes away, like all the other thoughts, sensations and emotions. We are the dream and the dreamer, as well as the eternal awareness in which the dream/dreamer arises and passes away. We are everything arising in the eternal now.
As the Buddha often said, “Don’t believe teachers or teachings, go look for yourself.”
Where will you find Genuine Insight?