You have to run along a ridge of ice, said Mumon. You have to keep a tight fit and never led the wind pass through…One slip, and down we go.
After the retreat we recently had at Sonnenhof, I met with my mum for three days, who flew down to Basel so we could spend some time together in the Black Forest.
She was born eight years before the Second World War began. When she got off the plane at Basel airport, she said she was feeling very emotional. Had she not been old and stiff she would have knelt down and kissed the soil of continental Europe.
She said this because of Brexit.
It took two World Wars, and many centuries of bloodshed, for Europe to get its act together and unify. All it took for the Brexit referendum to happen was a couple of lying political opportunists.
That’s how the sense of the separate self is. It’s very easy for it to skip back into the driving seat. One burst of anger, one lingering resentment, one bout of anxiety – and there the genie is once more, convincing as ever.
You have to run along a ridge of ice, said Mumon. You have to keep a tight fit and never led the wind pass through, he also advised. One slip, and down we go.
It was ever thus. We are merely continuing the long work.
What is it all really for, all this clarifying through practice, this “purifying,” in the old Buddhist terminology — this scouring of the mind to free it of ancient encrustations?
It is to be free of everything that is not the oldest, deepest, purest and most powerful love. Love that has the force to create the universe. Love immense and impersonal, yet so intimate. Love that can crush every last preconception we ever held of what our life is, of what we are. Love that once encountered changes everything. And yet — totally non-religious, non-supernatural. Totally intrinsic to our ordinary being.
Is that what it’s all for? And what is this “love” in the end anyway? What really is it?