Here’s another installment in a series of emails that took place between Michael and one of his senior students beginning in August of 2009. May you find the exchange interesting and enriching.
(Art: Bows to Geironimo for “Free Fall”)
June 3, 2010
Student: Is it also right to say that you also are born and die within your own experience? You keep telling us that we are nothing but a spontaneous arising of things. We are as consequential or inconsequential as a leaf falling to the ground, it seems. There is really, really nothing to do. Only to be done by this whole process of consciously, and continually, integrating stillness.
Michael: Yeah, I’d agree with you. The trick is making the inconsequential-ness totally meaningful for all beings. This is how our practice of apparent meaninglessness becomes a deeply meaningful expression of generosity.
Student: Meaning is inherent, and infused with responsibility, but I don’t know why. Can you explain that? Isn’t every single thing just as meaningful as every other thing, since anything arises is a complete miracle? Then again, from the context of the Infinite, nothing ever happens.
Michael: On the one hand, yes: every single thing that is born out of the Infinite, or Being, is a miracle. On the other hand, there is an available, and important, hierarchy when we look carefully at the way our ethics work together with what’s forever beyond them. So a more accurate statement might be that “meaning is neither inherent nor imputed,” or “there is no meaning, nor is there no meaning.”
“Things are not as they seem, nor are they otherwise.” – Lankavatara Sutra
Yes. Not Yes. Not this, not that. Neti, neti.
Student: Haha! To find that I am nothing but a simple and continual, arising out of Being is just hilarious! There were so many years of drama, and what’s even funnier is that I liked it. The struggle and fight with myself was thought to be needed to make life meaningful.
Things are not as they seem, nor are they otherwise. Good one.
So to step fully into the paradox is to fly over the cliff, and be the free fall.
Michael: If it’s really free, it’s not a fall.
Student: But how can letting go into this infinite moment not be a free fall? Maybe there’s nothing to understand and I’m just getting caught, but somewhere there is the free with out the falling. And at what point, is it better to burn with the questions?
Michael: Burn, baby, burn. Dharma Inferno? :) It’s not a fall. It’s a free expanse… past all boundaries. Rest there. And let what’s unnecessary burn away.