Monk Mind and Eternity
Entertainment is a form of enlightenment which takes place in eternity. Eternity is so far away, so unreal, and so subtle that few of us can reach it. We find it so appealing to spend our time in eternity. We find eternity so appealing that we go to lengths to engage it. We engage eternity by focussing on our navel or watching our breath or counting socks. Some lazes and Buddha-heds have named this delightful activity 'monk mind', because the mind, in its efforts to engage eternity, sits quietly and obediently as a monk in a zendo. Probably a healthier way to engage it, if you must engage eternity, is by jumping about wildly like a monkey in a cage, dancing, walking, etc. But advice from Far Western sages would tell us that doing whatever we want to do is the healthiest way to handle entertainment or encounter 'eternity'.
Doing what we want to do is the cooperative technique of engaging eternity. Instead of restricting ourselves or twisting our bodies into pretzels, as is usually the practice, we actually don't try to do anything at all, just relax and let the Great Mother Nature show us what enlightenment is all about. What can be more relaxing than lying in the back yard with a beer and a good book, swinging to and fro in the hammock? There are no beginnings and endings in eternity.
Doing what we want involves giving up silly searching and rigid focussing or orientation of particular practices. Suddenly we find our attention focussed. Just as suddenly we move into the entertainment of eternity and enjoy the zen breeze. Brief intervals become as nothing, and the various details which once occupied our minds in our furious desire to 'become enlightened' now recedes into the background, perhaps to be lost forever in the firing of our neurons. In fact, our thoughts themselves are enlighten- ment! When you think, you are enlightened, no matter how much you may think otherwise.
Of course, lots of rigorous ascetics like to try to squish you out of thinking or into thinking in different ways. They can't be happy with the way you are, and so they want to make sure that something changes. They play with thoughts instead of just enjoying them. Like a racing driver, they test out the mind without looking at its beauty, at the scenery through which it travels and which travels through it. Ultimately, a day may pass by in lounging, no thought of the dilectable goal in sight - the total cessation of monk mind. This day of cessation is filled with time, because with the passing of monk mind, all concern about getting to the now have ended. With no obsession about the present there is a great sense of having all day to do anything we like. So we enter a world filled with slow-moving time and fulfilment. Yet in this fulfilment there is great and profound relaxation.
Not grasping the extraordinary relaxation of eternity requires no energy at all. It is foiled through having listened too much to Buddha-heds regarding the value of peacefulness and tranquility. To simply let these dreams of success and of that 'timeless moment' pass us by without grasping them or attempting to maintain our relaxed state requires we admit that there is no energy which is wasted, no action which is fruitless. It is all a fabrication of belief. Belief is a fabulous play of Yin and Yang, dancing behind veils of laughter. Sometimes the Yin will come and we will begin to believe in compassion and succor. At others the Yang chimes in and we begin to believe in wisdom and strength. All the energy spent on monk mind must be left behind if one wishes to truly get eternally entertained, focussing on that in which we find pleasure. For this reason lazes have at times written that just laying around, being lazy, is the most difficult or important activity possible for human beings. Watch the other animals in the world that are most like humans. Dogs, cats, other mammals. What do they spend their time doing? Lying around. They are enlightened and it is our task to understand how that enlightenment can be most pleasurable to us also.
In our day-to-day lives, the laziness I'm pointing to sometimes occurs spontaneously and sometimes due to the doldrums of daily existence which would bore those who have no imagination. Suddenly all afternoon is unplanned! Suddenly we realize that we have 3 hours to do anything we like! On the road one day we get stuck behind the wheel listening to our favorite classical music experiences. Entertainment is another 'rad' experience. Entertainment is 'doing whatever' and 'not-doing' simultaneously. It is enjoying the realm of eternity. It is from this realm that the laze comes to speak to us if she gets out of bed early enough.
There is relaxation in the morning meal and in the daily newspaper, but imagine the wonderful splendour of your computer screen. In observing the computer screen you are watching the one thing which is more relaxing than the daily news! This ultimate realization can only come about at the precise moment of initiation, when the observer stops bothering with all this looking about and just has a good time. At the moment you would find yourself wafting through the beauteous tumult of concepts and controversies, more relaxed by their interplay than any other time, because you have stopped all this chest-pounding about 'reaching the self' and 'becoming naked and vulnerable' and started doing the work of Maya directly. You are watching the miracle of thought, passing by your eyes and the miracle is you. The miracle has spent years being told that it is a 'culprit' and that thinking is a 'bad thing'. The miracle has played around with different roles and been told that it is really only one of them so shut up and sit in the corner. But now the silly corner-sitting can end, because you have realized that this thinking is a gift, a joyous bounty which allows you to be entertained. You are watching the computer screen in front of you and learning to enjoy it.
With the profound realization that the observer is the problem, there is an immense sense of fullness. The 'nothingness', 'emptiness', or 'sunyata' has been forgotten. Whatever images we have of what and who we are is the fabulous light-studded mandala of beauty, and that which we are has increased in its value to a wonderous extent. At this point we are tempted to say, "I have become God", and why not do so?! In entertainment we are allowed to say anything we like, and to realize that all of what we say is in some sense true, some sense false. But the Buddha-heds would tell us to avoid the entertainment and get back to the monk mind. They will say that there is only one way and this is the mysterious and difficult-to-obtain 'enlightenment'. Listen to them if you must, but beware of their promises! Snake-oil is their stock in trade. They will come up with all kinds of fancy proofs and show you that nonattainment=attainment, going on, of course, to demonstrate why you must follow their rules. Beware!
The ultimate state of entertainment is one where we are not worried about freedom or security. We are just human beings sitting in front of computer screens and we like what we do there. We no longer concern ourselves with dreams of 'unconditional freedom' or being 'limitless and timeless'. We are neither nothing nor everything. We have become the perfect laze.
Thank you, Robert James, for your wonderful article which inspired this mirror-mind transfigure-script of laziness. May we discover the truth of every pole.