Dogzen Email Newsletter
Reprints of the Dogzen Email Newsletters
Number 11 - July, 2005
You've probably heard the phrase, "It's just a figment of your imagination." What's a figment, you might ask?
fig·ment (noun). Something invented, made up, or fabricated.
That's what we do all the time. We figmentalize - invent, make up, and fabricate. We do this with every perception, every feeling, every attitude, every analysis, every opinion. Our lives are filled with figmentalization. This happens spontaneously. We mostly don't even notice it.
We take the basic substance of experience and overlay it with figments. Everything gets the gloss. Only at rare moments do we see things without the figments obscuring the underlying reality. When this does occur, when the figments are cast aside and we merge with truth itself, we call it a direct experience.
The underlying dynamic cosmic energy is decorated with figments of our imagination, and this is what we go by, this is what makes up our day-to-day reality. The field of cosmic energy is constantly boiling up things that flash into existence within the field of awareness. Then the decorations start, and what we see, what we know, what we react to is this odd combination of the cosmic energy and figments of our imagination. Living within this world of figments is called "living in samsara."
This, of course, is fine. No problemo. We are (mostly) here for that. We love to be alive, and much of what being alive is is figmentalizing the underlying dynamic cosmic energy within the space of our awareness and dancing our dance with each other. But our hearts also yearn for the direct experience. We want to get grounded in Truth. We want to merge awareness with the Divine base, to become one with God.
(This becoming one with God can be said in many ways, many of them, in fact, don't mention God and, instead, point to absolute existence, love, being, suchness, and so forth. As the Amitabha Sutra says, "In his own country, each [enlightened being] brings forth the appearance of a vast and long tongue, everywhere covering the three-thousand, great thousand worlds.")
Our wanting, at least for a moment, to cast off the layers of figmentalization and just directly experience truth takes us to spiritual practices such as Dogzen. Here we clearly identify how the mind is overlaying the moment with mental stuff, and we detach awareness from what it is aware of and experience pure awareness aware only of itself. We realize for ourselves the nature of awareness (essence of mind, the Divine) by clearly and directly experiencing awareness within a moment of pure contemplation, a moment when there is no figmentalizing going on. From that experience there emerges an understanding of our nature, the nature of life, and the nature of what we really want to do with our precious time here.
It isn't all that easy, actually, because everything is defined by the figments. Figments reenforce other figments. We fill our relationships with our figments. We live and die for our figments. We get scared when we lose our figments. To cease figmentalizing, one has to pull away from all figments and experience essence of mind with essence of mind only. No figments. No thoughts. No concepts. No beliefs. Have this present awareness, which is that intimate central source that is you, look directly at itself, purely, in this moment, without any expectations of a really good figment resulting from doing it. When the figments that create a separate self dissolve, the separate self dissolves, and the space of pure luminous knowing truth abides.
This whole newsletter is a figment of my imagination. It is also a figment of your imagination. Letting it dissolve from the mind, there is just our contact. Bang!
That's it for this time. Fond regards,