Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Hidden Tiger: Knowing Which Name to Call

Can you find the hidden tiger in the picture above?  Once you see him, it seems so clear, so obvious, but it takes a little while.  You don't see him right away.  You have to search.  Maybe not long, but you have to search.  Then you see it clearly.

The ancient Egyptians, like a lot of peoples, believed that if you knew someone's name, you had power over them.  The Egyptians believed that every person had (has) a secret name, their essential name, that is too powerful to be known.  The great mother goddess, Isis, became the most powerful magician in existence by tricking her father, Re, into telling her his secret name, and thus, giving her his power.

You can't solve your problems until you see the hidden tiger and know god's secret name.  Until you can figure out exactly what problems you're having, you're helpless against them.  It sounds simple, I know.  Of course you can't solve problems you don't know you have.  The point is this: you have no power if you are calling the wrong name.

I've noticed that when one thing goes wrong, lots of things seem to go wrong.  Sometimes we see that lots of things are going wrong, and we don't understand that they might be the result of something else.  This isn't meant to be complicated.  I don't think we all have deeply hidden issues.  I just know that there are days when everything goes wrong, (it's raining, you burn your finger on the coffee pot, you lose your keys, you fail your test) and you focus on all the bad things not realizing that they aren't really the problem.  

This is a simplification, of course.  But the question is simple:  What's your problem?  Is it really your girlfriend?  Is it really about your failed test, your lost job, your broken cup?  If it is, you have the power to overcome, you have the power to move on.  If you can't let go, can't help but focus on these things, big or small, maybe you've been looking in the wrong place for the hidden tiger.  Maybe you've been calling the wrong name.

Can you find the hidden tiger in the picture above?  What about in your self?

Friday, October 17, 2008

On Passing Through Doors

I was listening to a podcast of a talk given by a Buddhist monk a few weeks ago. The monk, Gil Fronsdale, lives in California and gives these talks, called Dharma Talks, every Sunday. (You can find his weekly talks over at Zencast, if you’re interested.) I’m not sure anymore which talk it was I was listening to, but there was a story Gil told that caught my attention. The story was about a man who decided to become a monk. Before leaving for the monastery he spoke to his spiritual teacher for advice. The teacher was pleased to see that his pupil was taking this step to deepen his practice and he gave him the best advice he could give:

“Pass through all doors completely.”

When I heard this, I immediately stopped walking, turned my iPod off, and I really thought about what it means to go through all doors completely. The rest of the story isn’t important. I’d like to focus just on these words because I think they offer truly wise advice.

Namwen and I have been talking about decisions lately. Mostly about making them and the difficulties that entails. My difficulty has never been in making decisions. I’ve always felt that they sort of get made for me, I go where I need to go. I’ve been truly blessed to have this clarity. My difficulty came in accepting the outcome of the decision. I'm specifically talking about my decision to come to the Netherlands. I hadn’t realized this until I heard the Zen master’s advice to his pupil.

I didn’t exactly choose to come to the Netherlands, though of course it was my decision to come here. Either way, until very recently I had not come through that door completely. I had one foot outside, waiting. I knew this was where I had to be, where I was supposed to be, where I needed to be. But still I hesitated to fully make the transition; I hesitated to step away from the door. I had thought these days of hesitancy were behind me and I was surprised to see this in myself again. I hadn’t been this uncertain of change since high school!

“Pass through all doors completely.”

Clarity. I now saw clearly that I was hesitating, and I have now truly passed through the doorway of the decision I made that brought me here. I’m no longer waiting for…whatever it was I was waiting for. I never had a name for it. I thought at first that it was a fear of change, and I was disappointed in myself. What happened to the brave girl who longed for everything new? Now, I realize it wasn’t a fear of change at all, it was an addiction to change. I got a change, and I didn’t like it immediately (this was not like going to Berlin, which from the start felt like going home) so I wanted another change. So I stood in the doorway, waiting to see where I could go next, searching the long hall of doorways for another opening. Now I’ve let go of the door knob and fully entered the room.

Look! A banquet! A feast I couldn’t see because I was staring too hard at the closed doors behind me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cades Cove

My Zen

Click to enlarge.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pop Culture - Zen

I thought this was so zen that I had to post it here instead of my other blog. Think about it, it IS deep! :D

And here are two books I recommend to you, both are deep first hand observations of human struggles seen from the points of view of two very different women.

Paulo Coelho - Eleven Minutes (Story of a young brazilian girl that comes to Geneva, where she becomes a prostitute. It has some for me impressive insights into the nature of sex and love, suffering and pain)

Oriana Fallaci - Letter to a child never born (I have not read it entirely yet, but feel it is a very relevant book for anyone of us, containing the sad and deep thoughts of a pregnant woman that she tells her unborn child)

Have a good day, everybody!