“What is truth?” – Pontius Pilate
It is not uncommon for me to add a post to my blog and later wake up in the middle of the night thinking:
Oooooooh… I probably shouldn’t have said that!
Mmmmmmmmm…. Maybe, I should have said this?
Perhaps, I should have said that, this way?
Examples of the aforementioned “if-onlys” are:
I recently wrote about a Lutheran minister who, some two decades ago, refused to shake my “little brown hand” after delivering his sermon on love, as we filed out of the sanctuary of his church. [Shouldn’t have?]
I recently published a post about chanting in which I neglected to share that I chant every day, and why (because of length-of-content limitations and not intending to write a ‘recruitment’ post). [Should have?]
As for the third example, there are simply too many examples from which to choose — and I’m sure there’s a better way to have said that…
I’m always struggling with how to say what can’t always be said, or rather, the inefficacy of words as a mode of expression. Part of this struggle is due to the element of impermanence, or change, or anicca, as it is referred to in Buddhism. As soon as I “capture,” write down, proclaim, or ascribe to a “truth,” something shifts or changes. Hence, my not at all original assertion, “Only change is constant.” So, what is “true” for me, now, might not be true for me tomorrow, or for you, ever. Even the search for “truth” appears to be little more than “grasping” and attachment…
Of course, it would help, greatly, if I had some kind of expertise in Buddha-hood, but then again, if I did have “expertise,” I probably wouldn’t be talking about this, much less blogging.
I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about the work known as the Tao Te Ching; particularly, the first line of the first chapter. Derek Lin, on Taoism.net, has translated it as follows:
The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao.
Mind you, the word, “Tao,” translates as “way,” or “the way.” So, here, in another translation by T.W. Kingsmill (1899), we have:
The way that may be traversed is not the Eternal way.
Then there’s Ron Hogan’s “modern translation” (2002, 2004) which says:
If you can talk about it, it ain’t Tao.
So, however one says it, I can’t help but think, “What the hell am I doing trying to write about this ‘stuff?’” It can’t be captured. It can’t be “known.” And it’s substantive in the most in-substantial way possible…
Then, when I really want to get depressed, I think about the Buddha’s “Flower Sermon” also known as the Flower Sutra (not to be confused with the Flower Garland Sutra, which is considered to be the longest sutra in Mahayana Buddhism). The Flower Sermon’s roots, if you will, are in Zen or Ch’an Buddhism. In a nutshell, not long before the Buddha died, he met with his followers near a pond. Once they’d settled down, silently, he uprooted a lotus flower and presented it to them for inspection. One by one, they examined it, confused and trying to discern the Buddha’s meaning or intent. Apparently, the last disciple to whom the Buddha showed the flower, Mahakasyapa, alone understood the Buddha’s message. As he looked at the uprooted lotus flower in the Buddha’s hand, he began to laugh. The Buddha then handed the flower to Mahakasyapa, and it was he who became the Buddha’s successor. In accordance with the fact that this was not a “verbal” teaching, the sutra, itself, is very short. Apparently, as Lao Tzu said, “The way that can be spoken is not the eternal way.” So, currently, I can’t hear it, and can only imagine what Mahakasyapa, himself, heard…
Nonetheless, I just keep pluggin’ away… Perhaps, I should make this my “disclaimer” page?