The Mudhill

The Mudhill

 
Today I realized that I was living inside the mudhill*.
Wet, gooey, thick 
viscous mud sucks at my feet
and mires me in a bog. 
 
The mudhill lies at the bottom of the pond, just far enough underwater, 
so that the light can penetrate and touch the Lotus seed that is my life 
and the life of all beings, the “Jewel in the Lotus”.
 
The mud-hill is not a prison or trap where I am punished for my sins.
Rather, the mudhill is an instructive place to reconsider and reflect...
Albeit unpleasant.
 
Sitting in the mud-dle 
unable to escape into a greener pasture, and wanting to escape my situation,
I slip slowly into the quicksand of my own suffering.
 
Mired in desire for release from the mud-man-trap
the muck draws me down into what appears oblivion. 
 
As I pond-er a little closer, 
I am seeing that my descent into dark gooey amorphous obscurity 
is only for a season, until new roots can emerge
through the husk of the seed that is my life. It seems like a millennium. 
 
Stuck in the mud is a place of fertile im(in)-plantment.
I am learning to quit struggling against forces 
that want to nurture me.
Especially the unpleasant ones. 
No small task.
 
“No mud, no lotus”
 
What is slowly suffocating me, 
separating me from the inter-connection that is the core of being?
The terror of losing my i-dentity as a distinctly separate individual?
 
When I am engaged in protecting my-self or selves, 
I find that I lost contact and connection with who I am, 
instead of how I appear as a human persona and a mud-man.
I say selves, because I can see and hear the wounded baby, 
the wounded toddler, the wounded child, the wounded teenager, 
and the wounded adult in all his individual roles and proclivities 
through the lens of time. 
 
Time, at least as a linear construct, 
is not an accurate way to describe human maturation or growth. 
Trauma can affect or punctuate development and equilibrium at any time in our life continuum. That goes down the rabbit holes of suffering. Seemingly infinite tangents of human suffering.
 
The human being is more than a series of events from inception to death. We observe events, traumas, happiness, pain, suffering, trying to build a causal framework to categorize what composes a human being. If we string these events and experiences together. We should have a fairly good model for evaluating human beings and human behavior through the timeline-lens, right? I don’t think that this is the case. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
 
To just look at human beings as a string of experiences, is to diminish and destroy human beingness. When we ‘search’ for purpose and who we are, we first assume that we lack something, so we ‘search’ for it. We messed up in the garden and we are trying to get back there. What if ‘purpose’ is a conceptual distraction that separates us from the garden that we inhabit in our humanity NOW. What if the human is the garden of Eden. This garden is the place where all the trees and plants, and beings are now. 
 
What separated us from and enticed us to eat the fruit, was the lure that we were missing something, and until we find what is already present, the angel with the flaming sword is standing there, waiting for you to return, not to what you had or lost but what you are NOW at this moment. Not in the sweet by and by, or on judgement day, or when I get enlightened. There is no separate enlightenment.
Time cannot account for the being or inter-being. 
 
A concept that is found in many traditions is that the core human being, the soul or mind is stuck in the body. Something small trapped and buried deep in the human being. The evil or good flesh, and the personality, are the primary movers in this physical reality and we access this when we have time, on Sundays, or Sabbath, or in a vipassana retreat. We are too busy to breathe in the morning, and too tired to do anything at the end of the day. This hierarchical view of the human being fails, and I think damages our connection with our core humanity. Our true beingness is actually the container or womb that holds the universe and our bodies and minds in complete compassion without a persona or mask. This is the core of my true self. 
I'm still working with that one.
 
The Buddha
 
Thinking about the Buddha sitting under the tree 
when and where he became enlightened.
What was happening?
Was it a magical tree?
Did the Buddha say the magic words, pray the magic prayer, 
performed a flawless ritual with just the right number of candles?
And after performing all prescribed methods and mystical knowledge,
everything that he just changed in a magical mysterious transformation?
 
Or did the Buddha realize with real-eyes 
that he was already enlightened as was the tree, the earth, the clouds, the sky…
And in a moment that time cannot identify, nor space accommodate,
he realized that he was always sitting under the tree with all beings.

And that suffering existed and there was an end of suffering.
That the need to perform prayers and practices had served their purpose and really had little to do as a method of attainment, but as a way to remember what the garden is like. 

Practices and prayers became himself, not the way to himself. Practice is the plough that breaks the soil, not the seed or the field, but all are joined in the dirt/mud. This is a little tricky…
 
The drop and the seed -- that is the Buddha, 
became the ocean and the tree for all beings -- 
to see who, what, where, when, and why we truly are.
This is the gate that opens inside us all.
Knock, knock.
 
Back to the mudhill…
 
Here in the mudhill 
I find all I need to sprout 
and to reach through the mire into the welcoming light.
 
Is the disparity that lies between despair and hope, 
a vast chasm formed through a binary -- this or that perception,
that I either deserve punishment or reward?
 
Personally, I am thinking that the word 'deserve' 
is a word that has been used to control us,
by defining the universe or god as a giant checks and balances ledger. 
If a situation is unpleasant or bad -- "I don't deserve this or that" -- "why me"?
Or if I have a pleasant or 'good' outcome, 
then I deserved my reward for good behavior. 
 
Is God just the eternal parent and/or Santa Claus 
punishing us and rewarding us -- many times perceived as unfairly and unjustly. 
“He knows when you’ve been sleeping,
he knows when you’re awake,
he knows when you’ve been bad or good,
so be good for goodness sake.”
That we are god’s Pavlov’s dog waiting for the dinner bell, so we can salivate on cue?
 
Why do bad things happen to good people? 
And why do good things happen to bad people?
There is a flaw in this perception.
that I think is wrapped around the primitive personality.
 
Our true core reality is not dependent on good things or bad things.
In fact, a good thing could be good one moment, and bad the next.
Rain falls on the just and the unjust, right? 
Everything that I need to be happy is already in me.
 
Wei Wu Wei wrote, “Why are you unhappy? 
Because 99.9% of everything you do is for yourself – And there isn’t one.”
Herein lies the self-centered dream. “Ay, there’s the rub”.
 
Hamlet’s To Be or Not to Be soliloquy, in my point of view, really ploughs the depth of human suffering. I looked at the commentaries which mostly focus on suicide. Personally, I think that suicide is just a means to death, and that Hamlet was contemplating if physical death might be the end of suffering. Suicide is just the means. Does physical death conquer suffering?
 
Hamlet, Act II, Scene I, William Shakespeare
 
“To be, or not to be, that is the question,
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd. Be all my sins remember'd”
 Hamlet, Act III, Scene I
 
Actually what I see at the core of this self-centered dream, 
is the mi-staken i-dentity of being separated from the Divine.
 
Sin, transgressions, heaven and hell, paradise and torment...
Pain, suffering, injustice, inequity, racism, misogyny…
Joy, happiness, love, peace, pleasure…
Reward and punishment…
 
--- This perception of ‘reality’ exists in a binary framework that only exists as a limited causal dream.
 
The Rift
 
I have reached a rift in my conceptual reality --
a tear in my space-time causal continuum.
This rift or tear is a place of immense energy that forms when two dimensions collide. This tear both creates and destroys.
The Buddha me (metaphorically speaking. No separate Buddha-me exists.) that is fully present in compassionate understanding is my true being that gently holds me even in my delusion without judgement.
This compassionate intelligence wants to merge the finite known with the immense and incomprehensible unknowable essence that is the field of Knowing and Being. 
A well-crafted conceptual framework is no longer needed.
To embrace as I am embraced in the vast reality that I already am. This embrace seems like two things or states, but only in the framework of space and time.
 
What I am seeing or experiencing now is like when matter and antimatter merge.
The rift forms and the annihilation of disparity is birthed.
Energy is created in its conjugation.
This inner-gy is Interbeing and In-sight.
 
Perhaps Being and Non-being, Form and Emptiness are ephemeral states of perception.
“Whoever can see this no longer needs anything to attain.” The Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore”, Thich Nhat Han
 
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
that are dreamt of in your philosophy". Shakespeare, Hamlet
 
To escape the perception of being in the world 
and not of the world, or vice versa,
is to deny reality, which is beyond 
the pipe-dream of heaven or nirvana or bliss or salvation or even eternal damnation,
and the causal reality that we sense, WYSIWYG. I am in the world and of the world and not of the world simultaneously.
 
I find that living in the contradictory mudhill 
allows me the space to let go 
of the oscillating perceptions of mind and body
to find a context for being and interbeing.
 
The mudhill lies at the bottom of the pond, just far enough underwater, 
so that the light can penetrate and touch the Lotus seed that is my life 
and the life of all beings, the “Jewel in the Lotus”.
I’ve been in-wombed in compassionate embrace, 
awaiting awakening, pushing through the mud, water and sky to touch the Light.
 
The mud-man becomes the Lotus, and the Lotus becomes the mud-man, 
and we are standing in the gate.
 
Oṃ Maṇi Padme Hūṃ

"Thus the six syllables, oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ, mean that in dependence on the practice of a path that is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha. It is said that you should not seek for Buddhahood outside of yourself; the substances for the achievement of Buddhahood are within. As Maitreya says in his Sublime Continuum of the Great Vehicle (Uttaratantra, rGyud bla ma), all beings naturally have the Buddha nature in their own continuum. We have within us the seed of purity, the matrix-of-One-Gone-Thus, that is to be transformed and fully developed into Buddhahood." "Kindness, Clarity, and Insight: The Fundamentals of Buddhist Thought and Practice (Core Teachings of Dalai Lama)" by Dalai Lama, Jeffrey Hopkins, Elizabeth S. Napper
 
 Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha
 
The Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore, Thich Nhat Hahn
 
Avalokiteshvara
while practicing deeply with
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore,
suddenly discovered that
all of the five Skandhas are equally empty,
and with this realization
he overcame all Ill-being.
 
“Listen Sariputra,
this Body itself is Emptiness
and Emptiness itself is this Body.
This Body is not other than Emptiness
and Emptiness is not other than this Body.
The same is true of Feelings,
Perceptions, Mental Formations,
and Consciousness.
 
“Listen Sariputra,
all phenomena bear the mark of Emptiness;
their true nature is the nature of
no Birth no Death,
no Being no Non-being,
no Defilement no Purity,
no Increasing no Decreasing.
 
“That is why in Emptiness,
Body, Feelings, Perceptions,
Mental Formations and Consciousness
are not separate self-entities.
 
The Eighteen Realms of Phenomena
which are the six Sense Organs,
the six Sense Objects,
and the six Consciousnesses
are also not separate self-entities.
 
The Twelve Links of Interdependent Arising
and their Extinction
are also not separate self-entities.
Ill-being, the Causes of Ill-being,
the End of Ill-being, the Path, 
insight and attainment,
are also not separate self-entities.
 
Whoever can see this
no longer needs anything to attain.
 
Bodhisattvas who practice
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore 
see no more obstacles in their mind,
and because there
are no more obstacles in their mind,
they can overcome all fear, 
destroy all wrong perceptions 
and realize Perfect Nirvana.
 
“All Buddhas in the past, present and future
by practicing
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore 
are all capable of attaining
Authentic and Perfect Enlightenment.
 
“Therefore Sariputra,
it should be known that
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
is a Great Mantra,
the most illuminating mantra,
the highest mantra,
a mantra beyond compare,
the True Wisdom that has the power
to put an end to all kinds of suffering.
Therefore let us proclaim
a mantra to praise
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore:
Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!
Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!
Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!”


"Heart Sūtra: gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā (Proceed, proceed, proceed beyond, thoroughly proceed beyond, be founded in enlightenment.) The first gate refers to the path of accumulation; the second, to the path of preparation. Over these two periods you ascertain emptiness in the manner of dualistic appearance of the wisdom consciousness and the emptiness being realized. Then, proceed beyond (pāragate) indicates passing beyond the mundane level to the supramundane level of the path of seeing in which dualistic appearance has vanished. Thoroughly proceed beyond (pārasaṃgate) refers to the path of meditation during which you familiarize again and again with the emptiness that was first directly seen on the path of seeing. Through it, you finally pass beyond cyclic existence to the level of enlightenment (bodhi)—a state of being a source of help and happiness for all sentient beings." Kindness, Clarity, and Insight: The Fundamentals of Buddhist Thought and Practice (Core Teachings of Dalai Lama)" by Dalai Lama, Jeffrey Hopkins, Elizabeth S. Napper
 
*(from the Sufi tradition) Al-Mudhill is the one who takes you to the domain of the “lowest of the low,” the place where your ego has self-identified with being worthless. But why would a divine quality make us feel terrible? The answer can be found in the meaning of the root from which the Name Al-Mudhill derives: to seek or yearn for the object of a long cherished wish. In other words, al-Mudhill is the divine power that gives you a real desire and yearning to face your lower self, to bow low and to fully engage with the lowest regions of the self. Al-Mudhill brings you to your knees with your head on the ground. This is the outer form of sajdah, which means to bow down as in prayer. You go low. You surrender. Being brought low in your life could mean the opportunity to learn from the presence of al-Mudhill. By going low— which you thought was terrible— you may actually be drawn nearer to Allah. By going through such a process, you come to see that no matter how you are perceived, you are always in the hands of Allah, who cannot be limited by humanity’s ideas of high and low. You may be perceived as wonderful or you may be seen as beneath contempt , but in both instances you are completely held by God." Physicians of the Heart: A Sufi View of the Ninety-Nine Names of Allah" by Wali Ali Meyer, Bilal Hyde.

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