Session IX

Jacques Lusseyran: “The problem with seeing the regular way . . . is that sight naturally prefers outer appearances. It attends to the surface of things, which makes it an essentially superficial sense. We let our eyes skid over trees, furniture, traffic, faces, too often mistaking sight for perception . . . Speed is another problem. Our eyes glide so quickly over things that we do not properly attend to them. . . it makes me wonder how seeing has made me blind – by giving me cheap confidence that one quick glance at things can tell me what they are.” 

David Loy: “That our understanding of experience is dualistic may be due to the fact that vision has tended to serve as the “standard case” for perception generally and therefore as the measure for all the other senses [including the 6th sense, mind consciousness] – and for knowledge as well, which is why most languages abound in visual similes for knowing. We are inclined to distinguish the “sound heard” from the “objective sound over there,’ because we follow [and capitulate] to the model of vision, which seems to require a tripartite ontology, distinguishing the one who sees from the visual appearance (which changes according to perspective [structures, phenomenal object, parakalipta]), as well as from the visual object (which is understood to persist unchanged) [relational object, paratantra] . . .”

Hans Jonas, philosopher: “Only sight therefore provides the sensual basis on which the mind may conceive the idea of the eternal, that which never changes and is always present.” 

James Hillman: “The impulse to death may not be conceived as an antilife movement: it may be a demand for an encounter with absolute reality, a demand for a fuller life through the death experience.”

Thich Nhat Hanh: “If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud there will be no water; without water the trees cannot grow; and without trees, you cannot make paper. So the cloud is in here. The existence of this page is dependent on the existence of a cloud. Paper and cloud are so close. Let us think of other things, like sunshine. Sunshine is very important because the forest cannot grow without sunshine, and we as humans cannot grow without sunshine. So the logger needs sunshine in order to cut the tree, and the tree needs sunshine in order to be a tree. Therefore, you can see sunshine in this sheet of appear. And if you look more deeply, with the eyes of a bodhisattva, with the eyes of those who are awake, you see not only the cloud and the sunshine in it, but that everything is here, the wheat that became the bread for the logger to eat, the logger’s father – everything is in this sheet of paper. . . This paper is empty of an independent self. Empty, in this sense, means that the paper is full of everything, the entire cosmos. The presence of this tiny sheet of paper proves the presence of the whole cosmos.”

Kalu Rinpoche: “We live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality. We are that reality. When you understand this, you see that you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything. That is all.”

Tulku Urgyen: “Once you become one with the universe, you are everywhere and nowhere.”

Vidyaranya (Advaita Vedanta): “The knowledge of the Self leads to the identification of oneself with others as clearly as one identifies oneself with one’s body.”

Nasaragaddata: “Wisdom tells me I am nothing, compassion tells me I am every thing, between the two my life flows.”

Francesca Fremantle: “Recognition is the keynote of this whole teaching, but we cannot recognize what we have never met. So its message to us during this life is to get to know all these manifestations of mind while there is still time. All meditation is about getting to know the mind: first our individual minds, and then the essence of mind itself. There is no bardo outside the mind, no gods or demons outside the mind, no existence or awakening outside the mind. If we learn to know our mind during this life, we shall understand that the same mind continues after death, and that whatever occurs after death also happens here and now.”

Rollo May, existential psychologist: “Anxiety is objectless because it strikes at that basis of the psychological structure on which the perception of one’s self as distinct from the world of objects occurs.”