More about bowls!
The first point is spiritual capacity. As Joseph brought up in yesterday’s post, our spiritual capacity is a like a bowl: it can only hold that much. Anything more overflows and is lost (or makes a mess). So what can we do to increase our size, or as Barry points out, is this desire to be a bigger bowl actually a dualistic hindrance.
I think the answer lies in the approach. Why do we want to do this? Is it because we keep hearing Dharma talks and can’t remember them afterwards? Is it because we aren’t doing a good job of putting into practice what we know, or that we feel like what the Tibetans call a broken cauldron – no matter how much is put in, nothing is retained, nothing seems to be learned (from the experience).
At the risk of pushing an analogy too far, what determines our bowl size? To me, it’s whether we are living based upon our conditioned thoughts and urges of the body, or whether we are moving from something deeper. Then the question becomes how do we get in touch with this something deeper, this something that has ten-thousand names. The only way I know how to do this is by heavily returning everything to this fundamental mind, this Buddha-essence – letting go of “me,” what I know, and what I want to do. I’ve also heard someone describing this as “letting go to emptiness.”
In a sense this is dying to all that stuff, but the unexpected result is that in becoming aware of this that transcends all dualities, energy and wisdom burst forth, and I’m better able to respond and be with what is happening. Now, I’m able to actually hear what it is I’m truly called to do.
Somehow, all that gunk of “me,” desires, and resistance, is a paradox. If I indulge it and chase it, worry about it and fear it, my life slowly becomes a hell realm. Yet, if I fully become one with it and dive into this emptiness, then even that becomes an opportunity to awaken and grow. Even that which I would despise becomes my gateway. This still seems so weird and amazing to me!
Daehaeng Kun Sunim once said about the desire to practice, that “Yes, it is also a discriminating thought. But when you let go of it and entrust it to your inherent nature, it becomes a burning log that ignites and consumes the great mountain of logs that have accumulated over endless eons.”