The interesting question is, “How do I manage this temple for consciousness? How do I take care of my body? How do I do it without being trapped by taking care of it?”
You will see that the minute something is wrong with you, if you’re not very careful your consciousness will narrow, until you’re busy being your symptoms. The minute you start to cultivate these techniques of mindfulness, you begin to see the game that you’re playing, the life that you’re living, the way it’s unfolding, the roles you’re in, and you listen more deeply into your life, so that you hear what roles are. What you’ll learn is that you have a unique karmic predicament and that will manifest in certain ways at each moment, and to the extent that you push against the manifestation, it takes a lot of juice. Ultimately what you’re doing is dancing deeply, but lightly. There’s no clinging.
The statement, “Hold lightly, let go lightly,” is to be in it without clinging. And to differentiate, it’s interesting because when we love somebody we want to possess them, we want more of them, we want to collect them, we keep wanting to hold on while we keep getting these old moldering dead butterflies in our collection. You know – old loves that were a moment of love, and then we destroyed them through possessing them – and the letting go of holding your interpretation of the moment too tightly.
Like, what is this moment? There are dozens of ways it could be, hundreds of ways. If each person defined this moment, we would each find it in our unique way, and yet we are sharing a moment. If you get into ‘that’s my take’ and ‘this is the only reality’ you’re in trouble.
I work a lot with the third Chinese Patriarch of Zen, and I just take phrases. I always work with the first phrase, “The great way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.” And you think about all the preferences you have for colors, food, people, places, comforts, types of experiences, just think of them.
There’s a sea of opinions and prejudices and attitudes, and wants and dislikes, and so on. Think of how many times you’ve gotten caught in them, of being a person with an opinion, and feel how contracting that is, and you say, “But I’ve gotta have opinions, I mean, how will I know whether to walk across the street or not?” Stretch your mind a little but to allow for the possibility that you can functionally have opinions, but that you are not trapped by them, that you’re lightly in them.
Here are just two of the phrases, the stanzas:
“With a single stroke, we are freed from bondage; nothing clings to us, and we hold nothing. All is empty, clear, self-illuminating.”
This is third-plane awareness – clear, illuminating, present, ahhh, yes. “All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,” without exertion of the mind’s power. You don’t have to think about it, just rest in it. Here thought, feeling, knowledge, and imagination are of no value.
In this world of ‘suchness,’ there is neither self nor other than self, and you could take just those lines and work with them for a whole year, believe me. These are methods we’re talking about now. They’re methods for stretching your consciousness so that you allow yourself to inhabit the fullness of your being, which is ego and soul and awareness.
Now, there’s just a few lines of the next one I want to read to you, “Come directly into harmony with this reality.” We’re all here together, and we’re all here in a quality of emptiness. If you go back in your mind far enough, behind the ‘me’ and the ‘I,’ and what the senses are telling you, what you come into is just empty presence, and yet all the phenomena are here. However, the mind isn’t grabbing at the phenomena, it’s not clinging, it’s not avoiding, it’s not pulling, it’s not pushing, it’s just, “Ahhhh, yes, another moment.”
– Ram Dass