Seeing things as they are

July Clouds in Water community mindfulness, 2011

To see things as they are.
To receive things as they are.

To accept things as they are.

These are the base principles of Zen. It is similar to the admonition to “be in the present moment” in that it is simple and straightforward and very hard to do.

One of the ways to reject “things as they are” is to run them through our screen of ego-centricity preferences. Is this “thing” good for ME or not good for ME. Then we place a label on it, solidify it as good or bad, and act according to our judgement. We loose sight of what the “thing, moment” is in suchness. We loose sight that everything is Buddha without exception. We loose sight of the great network of interdependence and oneness.

This judging mind is always working on the basis of what is best (usually for ME).
It builds on the idea that there is an independent self-unit and that I and you are separate. The comparative mind is always judging something against something else. I’m better or worse then you. It even compares one’s present self with your possible self.

This comparative mind is exposed in our precept of not elevating oneself and blaming others or another translation, not praising self at the expense of others. In the ordinary mind, we are consistently monitoring ourselves for praise and blame. Pema Chodron has said that the way we fortify our solidified self is either by using aggrandizement or it’s opposite, self-denigration. We flip back and forth but still uphold the construct of a separated self. Or we work with the subtle dealings of our inner critic and outer judge, displayed as mirrors for each other.

This is not to say that we throw out discriminative mind. It is not erasing our discriminations but transforming them. The Buddha has many eyes. One of them is able to make discernments about wholesome and unwholesome action. But a Buddha eye is based on seeing the environment and the person working dynamically together. The Buddha eye is not based on a separate self. What is the appropriate action needed here? Once we have a self that deeply understands no-self, we can make use of our organized self for the benefit of all beings.

Please observe the comparative mind which uses words like “best and better”, which divides things into good and bad, right and wrong, elevated and below. Can we receive each “arisen this or that” as Buddha-nature and suchness itself?