As some of you who read these pages regularly know, my interest in things spiritual goes back to childhood, and I have for decades been seriously interested in the mystical edges of various spiritual traditions, from aboriginal shamanism to the writings of the Christian desert fathers.
Buddhism holds a particular resonance for me, in particular because its own form of mysticism is really not supernatural or magical at all, but genuinely metaphysical.
For many, many years, on the esoteric edges of Tibetan Buddhism, I occasionally bump into a concept that's sometimes referred to as "One Taste." (For those of you interested, it is in the Dzochgen and Mahamudra teachings where you usually run into this). Sometimes, the phrase used is "the yoga of one taste" or "the great perfection."
The concept can be maddeningly complex and subtle, but in the most general explanation 'One Taste' refers to a fully realized attitude toward human experience, in which the good, the bad, the ugly are all seen and accepted as the natural play of the mind. An adage sometimes used is "nirvanha, samsara (the hellish opposite of nirvahna)--no difference." In this particular school of practice, the follower not only understands, but virtually lives this slogan: "Form is none other than emptiness, emptiness none other than form."
Now, I'm normally far too egotistical and unevolved to really understand this concept, except in the most academic and intellectual of ways. Bad stuff happens, and I get obsessed and grumble and whine about it just like everybody else. Ever so rarely, though, something clicks within me and I actually get glimpses of a different way.
In the last few days, I have awakened to a throbbing headache, broken out in painful itchy allergic hives after eating something spicy, listened to an author bitterly complain about my company's lack of marketing skill, had my foot run over by a law-breaking motorist, moderated a disagreement between two cat-fighting employees, and had my wife impatiently snarl and snatch the television remote contol from my hand because I didn't change the channel quick enough to "So You Think YOu Can Dance."
My responses to these events haven't been all Buddhist and touchy-feely at all. "F@#@ You" has leaped from my lips several times over the last few days. I've become quite angry many times lately.
But the responses, while entirely human and normal, have also carried a fair amount of good humor with them. When I get angry, I get playfullly angry. The entire pageant has really just felt to me like the energy of the universe going about what it does quite naturally. None of is particularly good or bad, this or that. It's just the normal stuff of experience, a single form of experience just manifesting in various ways. And it's this simple faculty of experience——the knowing of stuff as it happens—— that lately I've found so mesmerizing and satisfying. The subjective goodness or badness, desireability or dislike of it, has seemed largely irrelevant——like television programming you can turn on or off at will. Interesting but not carrying any profound seriousness.
It's possible that this string of odd events has caused me to artificially go to an false "happy place." Perhaps the tension is building without me knowing it. Maybe walking home from the bus stop tonight, something will snap and I'll stomp on a small puppy.
At the moment, though, the good, bad and ugly of life all has the same flavor to me, and it's a pretty good taste. I'm sure to fall back asleep again shortly. But that's okay too.