Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
Tonight, I saw a dance, the Mocean dance company. The dance is a continuous flow. There is no point at which you can say that “I have created this thing, this object: this is it.” And then you sell the object or you get an award for the object. Dance is not like that. It’s a continuous flow, with no fixed objectification. There are countless small moments when a contact is made, a position is held, an emotion is expressed, but those tiny events, those moments dissolve back into the continuous flow. Nothing stays still for long; everything is in constant motion.
Last night, I danced to kirtan with a Hindu monk and a group of yogis. I realized that, no I do not have an individual spirit or soul that is separate from all others; no one does. But we are part of a collective universal soul-spirit that encompasses all that exists. That soul-spirit is existence itself, it is the possibility of existence. But that existence is in constant motion, ever-changing. I do not exist as a solitary self; I am part of a universal existence of all possible beings, all possible existences. Through this collective existence, I am connected to all the Buddhas and Bodhisatvas. “There are no beings to be saved” means that we do not “save” individual souls; we are part of an always-already collective “salvation”, a universal sacred being. All beings are part of this great universal, complex and diverse unfolding of existence. It means that yes, even in the short term, within the length of this brief life, our seeming solidness is soon dissolved into this universal flow of existence. There is no “me” or even “us.” We’re already there; we are already enlightened. We don’t have to be rejoined with anything because we have never been separated from it. Why? because there is no separate self.
We are continuously unfolding process, flow, flowering. We are instantiations of the universal; not as objects, but as specified flows, as particular flowerings. Buddhism worms its way into the individual, like a virus, and explodes the individual, so that the individual then ceases to exist as a separate being. And for those who are overly universalist, who cling to the blank monism of absolute voidness, that nothing exists, Buddhism forces you to see the specificity and uniqueness of each act of creation, it’s “suchness”. The proper interpretation of Madhyamika is that one cannot even assert “essencelessness”; one cannot even assert an eternal unchanging “voidness”. One cannot make any ultimate assertions about anything. Which leads you back to your own experience as the only thing that can teach you, the only truth you can vouch for. Emptiness-as-form is a slow-motion unfolding and dissolving kaleidoscope of infinite variety. Like wildflowers that bloom all summer long, they explode in a slow-motion fireworks display of brilliant colours: the whites of daisies and yellows of dandelions; the reds of tulips and the violets of irises; the purples and pinks of foxgloves, the orange of tiger lilies. There is no stopping this continuous flow, this unfolding of infinite and continuous diversity. This is emptiness.