The real beauty in practice and life is exactly these two – atman and anatta. The soul, and no-self. First, the journey to discover our soul, our atman, and to become more aligned with that within us that relishes itself, that loves life, that loves others, and that is already in love with the world.
Then by pursuing exactly that, by letting it show itself more and more fully, we actually discover anatta — no self.
We fall into the atman or soul so deeply that we disappear, and anatta, no self, appears — boundlessness without any content of any kind whatsoever — to the point actually of no longer even being boundlessness, or awareness. That is the true death.
Which is followed by a kind of perpetual birth — not a rebirth. “Rebirth” would suggest some prior birth had happened. Rather, this moment is the only birth, all springing forth, all blooming, all blazing forth, just now.
What then? Heart full, heart tender, heart broken by the suffering and cruelty in this world –yet also not broken.
Why not? Basically, there’s nothing to break – anatta.
Yet at the same time, that’s not the whole story. It is and it isn’t. This life, this world, and this now-activated soul, this person who is now alive, aware, and awake in the world – this is what we now need – the atman once again, fully alive and awake now.
So the full ox journey is the journey to no-self, no-world, to true “gone,” as The Heart Sutra puts it. And then back again. First, it’s all the way to the Ox, then we ride the ox, then there’s no ox and no self — and then we come back, to the source, to exactly now – back to the ordinary marketplace, with compassion, generosity, and creativity as the fabric of life.
What a ride!
Message from Henry is from our August 1, 2022 Newsletter.