When I meditated the next morning, this incident naturally came to the fore. Because I needed to be acknowledged as being right, I harmed someone, a good friend, even if it was temporary. And let’s just say this isn’t the first time this has happened. In my pre-Buddhist days, I always had to be right. Now I know better but on occasion, especially on minor matters where I am not as alert to my ego arising, this still happens.
While sitting, something I read recently in The Unborn: The Life and Teachings of Zen Master Bankei (1622-1693) came to mind. Because of partiality for themselves, people want things to move in their own way. get churned up over even unimportant things, become upset, contentious, and end up transforming their unborn Buddha mind into a fighting spirit, a hungry ghost. That is exactly what happened to me on this occasion.
My partiality, as Bankei calls it, was an expression of my pridefulness, which I know is the flip side of my insecurity. So I sat with the undeniable fact of my partiality, my pride, and my insecurity.
I had sat with these feelings at various points over the years, acknowledging that they were just a result of my learned experience, were just in my mind, caused me suffering and weren’t me. And so I chose to let them go, to let them subside. But my meditation experience never “took” when I was off the cushion.
Now, however, I recently had had direct proof that my feelings and perceptions were just a product of my mind (see my post, “Proof of the Nature of Mind”). And so just as I did with the feeling of fear, I said regarding each of these feelings, with a flick of my wrist and arm, “Not me!” Since that meditation about fear, I have felt a palpable inner calmness and fear has not even arisen, despite circumstance being rife with catalysts for the arising of fear.
As I continued to sit, I noticed that above the point at the end of the line that I was concentrating on, several inches of “open space” away, there was another point. I was somehow drawn to it. And as I concentrated on that point, the light area around it became brighter and almost pulsed.
I knew suddenly that this point was “the other shore.” I knew that after having had direct proof of the emptiness of the skandhas, and declaring “Not me!” as they arose, I was throwing off these burdens, enabling me to approach, get closer to, the other shore.
In the days after this meditation, I was aware of many instances where in the past I would have made a comment to express my thought, to differ with someone who was speaking, not because something important was at issue but just because I always have felt I had to comment, I had to say what I thought, point out an inaccuracy, and be acknowledged as being right. But now, I just allowed those thoughts to subside. And in the past few days they haven’t even arisen.
Recently I reread something I had forgotten in The Life of the Buddha. The Buddha said, speaking to Ananda, “Each of you should make himself his island, himself and no other his refuge. Each of you should make the Dhamma his island, the Dhamma and no other his refuge. [Since the unborn Buddha mind is in each of us, so too is the dharma, so these two comments are not inconsistent.] … Put away covetousness and grief for the world. Abide contemplating feelings as feelings, consciousness as consciousness, fully aware, mindful.”
That is what the other shore is. That is what I have been doing, at last, in recent days.