Going from Horizontal to Vertical

Posted by on April 13, 2016

Buddha Rests on Buddha

Buddha Rests on Buddha

 

 

Going from Horizontal to Vertical by Yao Xiang Shakya

My fundamental nature is to do nothing, to have nothing. I am to be. Yet, again and again I am fooled into thinking and then doing things that bring about disappointment and dissatisfaction followed by regret. I regret what I thought and what came to be what I did, after what I thought. This inane cycle seems endless because I spin it around and around again.

Somehow, perhaps with some luck, I know when I let the burn I feel cool down, the thoughts and actions show me once more the silly nonsense of my involvement in the material world. It is full of silly nonsense of looking after and going after things, whether the things are mundane, extraordinary or alive. This is life in the horizontal position.

I notice when I want to think about and do things associated with being, just being, I don’t find this same silliness. The most restful place is when I contemplate God (the true nature of being). There is nothing else that seems to be as satisfying. Nothing. This is life in the vertical position.

Quite honestly it’s taken a fair number of years for me to see this truth. I have known for a long time no thing in the material world was satisfying, a thing to be counted on but I kept thinking it was me and my bad luck in finding the thing that was satisfying. All my complaints and angst and restlessness are evidence that I knew through my experience that material things are unsatisfying, yet I remained stupid. I kept trying to make the material world into something satisfying. You know, like the right place to live, work that kept my attention, a healthy body; or more daily things like ‘what now, what’s next?’ Finally one day not that long ago I listened to my dissatisfaction and really understood that it’s a message of truth about the material world. All along my mind, the big, wise mind of being had been telling me this for years and years. I confess I am a numbskull or was. But now like the sound of a trumpet I hear this message as truth because it’s my experience of the material world. And the great part of it is I clearly comprehend it without an aftershock of disappointment or dissatisfaction.

This cycle leads me to question why I am not able to relate the material world as part of to be…just to be. One thing that comes to mind is the hardships of the material world and other beings. The hardships seem to center on a conflict between my inner desire to stay in just being with God and the pull to be involved with the moronic rules of the material world. When I come to terms with the nature of the material world I change. I sit upright right in the middle of the variations.

I remember my seventy year old neighbor going on and on about how she hated the street signs in our neighborhood. The rule asked her and each one of us to move the car to the south side of the street on Thursday and back to the north side on Friday. It does sound ridiculous; but we both knew that it was to make way for the street cleaners. I have to admit even knowing that it was to allow the street cleaners to have a clear path to clean each side of the street the rule does sound, burdensome and stupid. It’s a simple hardship, I know, but a hardship nonetheless. And for my neighbor it was tough. She had to remember to do it and sometimes got a pretty big fine when she’d forget. She was on a fixed income and a fine was a pretty big dent in her monthly income. Of course everyone knew she had a garage but she preferred to park on the street in front of her house. I’m not sure, but I think it was because she lived alone and if something happened to her in her garage it might take longer to find her in the garage as opposed to falling on the street. Besides her husband fell in the garage and lay on the cold cement for two days. It didn’t kill him right away but it led to his death.

The garage, the street, the car and the rules are all hardships when you really think about it. And not only are they physical hardships, these things take up a lot of our mental energy as well. We have to keep these things in mind. Keep tabs on them. Make decisions about them. We think about and do what we do with material things. There’s not a lot of just being and I wonder how much of these things we think about and handle lead to knowing just being. I suspect much of what we do with things is a distraction. So I come back to just being, a joyful shelter.

This miscreant of thinking about things and doing something with them is not new. I’ve had it going on in my mind for years; it lurked, prowled through the possibilities of reshaping and handling the material world. It is a deadly trap; laid me out flat again and again. And it is all a distraction.

But it’s not enough to know it’s a distraction because we need to know what it distracts us from. And we need to know about how to discriminate which is a secret code word for non-attachment. And this non-attachment is no ordinary dismissal of things in the world like a clear out or downsizing. God no! It’s means that I have to continuously be alert to what I am thinking and doing in such a way that I ask myself in some form or another why I want that__________, what permanent advantage do I gain from_________and how would gaining it help liberate the soul?

I am going to make a sweeping generalization about my situation and non-attachment. For the most part, everything except for God is impermanent and therefore everything in the world is not of much help to my quest to know God. But…there’s always the but…some things I need to stay alive in order to find God. Food, water, and shelter come quickly to mind. I also know it doesn’t mean having things is bad or good, but some things add to the hardship of my life. I know a thing adds hardship to my life when I find myself clutching it with attachment. It’s those times when I am sucked up into some afflicted state.

Here’s where discrimination comes in. I need to see what is permanent versus impermanent. When I am able to clearly discriminate I am able to sort out my daily life in such a way I have a shot at just being free of the nonsense of dissatisfaction. I realize there is very little I can do when it comes to the rules of the material world, very little I can do when it comes to other beings, but there is something I can do with what I call ‘my’ life. I can choose to live a horizontal life of entanglement or a vertical life of just being.

I used to fight rather than read the messages that contact with the material world was offering. For the most part, the fight is over. I listen and heed the messages. More and more I am able to stay in what I call just being; it is a place of rest like no other. And more and more I want to be there. I also see that it requires more and more time alone and even though that is the case I am able to tend to the demands of the material world which are necessary and at times demand my attention.

Habits hound me at times but less and less. Which simply means a disciplined approach to relinquishing what is impermanent for the real deal. Discrimination is to know not to become attached to things, not to become dependent on things as a substitute for knowing God.

It’s going from a horizontal life to a vertical one. It’s a life with less and less dependence on how things should go and how others should be. I forfeit willingly the idea that my advantage does not rely on the help of others nor is it impeded. This renunciation of this dependence ends resentment and antagonism. And I am left in a vertical position of knowing there is nothing but God, here and now.

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