To Be or Not To Be
To be or not to be? This is a spiritual question, about duality or non-duality. Well, a Zen master might slap you in the face just for posing that question. And if in that moment, you got slapped really hard on that face by a Zen master for even caring about the question, is there duality or non-duality, what would that feeling be? Where would your mind be slapped off to, in that moment of no-mind?
In that moment of being slapped, the awe, the shock of the now grabs and takes ahold of you. What happens to your question? What happens even to your care for that?
In the old days, Zen masters could get away with stuff that they probably couldn’t get away with now, and for good reason. What’s interesting is that they were pointing to the idea that the mind will continuously generate all types of philosophical quandaries, all types of existential questions. There is no end. You answer one, it unfolds into another. You answer that, it’ll unfold into another. The mind has no end. It’s endless!
Just like a magician pulling out scarves from their sleeve, it’s the nature of the mind to have a continuous stream of never-ending questions.
So, are our questions worthy, especially these existential ones of duality and non-duality? Or will they get us a slap in the face?
A question that was very strong for me for a long time was, “Is it me or others?” “Self or others?” That was my foundational duality, or polarity, that I was dealing with.
I want to share with you a concept from the East. It’s the idea that all existence, all emerging questions, all emerging inquiries, are made up of dualities, here and now. Time/space, earth/sky, organic/non-organic, me/you. Hot/cold, happy/sad. It’s endless. All the way to subtler and subtler dualities: illusion/non-illusion, existence/non-existence, self/other, no-self/no-other. It goes on and on and on.
The masters would always come back to looking at, what is the utility of these questions? Can I take my enquiring mind, and bring greater reality to the way I live my life, from what I discover?
The idea is that we sharpen our mind like we sharpen a pencil, so that we can write more clearly. It’s through the use of the pencil in writing – the use of our discoveries in our lives – that we need to sharpen it again.
So, too, on the path of the Warrior Sage, we sharpen our pencils with self-inquiry.
But we have to hold our pencil lightly, with great humour, recognizing that the answer transcends the mind.
The question is just like a matchstick. It’s designed to start the fire, and to be consumed by the fire itself.
Your question sparks the direct experience of your life, and is consumed by it, so that the question is gone, and ultimately the questioner, and the act of questioning itself.
What dissolves is this act of separation, the act of removing our consciousness from the moment to inquire about the moment. What remains is being totally present with all that is here, right now.
And this, my friend, is knowing.
I know you know, because you know the experiences where you don’t need any questions answered, where you are in the state, and in the presence, and in the power, and the simplicity, and the clarity of your own knowing.
What is your craft and artistry, that when you’re in it, you just know you’re in flow state? Is it perhaps in a sport? Perhaps when you’re speaking? Perhaps when you’re making love? Perhaps when you’re creating businesses? Perhaps when you’re with your children?
When you are in your knowing, there is no mind.
Now you have found the answer that transcends any duality which can arise in your mind.
Should I? Shouldn’t I? Self or other?
Existence is not meant to be answered. Existence is life to live.