the good spiritual friend

The True Person and the good spiritual friend is that within me that hears everything and perceives all that I do without engaging. It is unstruck, >>anahata<<, the unstruck one. That is why from that place I will never strike, >>ahimsa<<. While birth, dwelling, changing and destruction happen, I remain as the True Person. The good spiritual friend is always at my side. He is my own true being, my Self.

“Master Linji taught, ‘In this world, what is it you need to turn towards in order to find liberation? All you need is a bowl of brown rice, a mantle of cloth, and apart from this you should give all your psychological force and time to find the good spiritual friend.’

“Master Linji made up the expression, ‘signlessness of the four objects of mind.’ The four signs are: earth, water, fire, and air. He used the image of the earth to speak about all the obstacles caused by our ignorance and doubts. Whenever we have a wrong perception, it’s as if there’s a huge rock in front of us that we can’t get around and that obstacle is symbolized by the earth. Water represents the obstacle that is caused by craving or sensual desire. Water has the capacity to pull us very far away and sensual desire pulls us like a strong current. Fire represents the obstacle of anger because anger has the capacity to burn. Air and wind represent the obstacle of excitement because wind whips us about and pulls us away from our own calmness and contentment. This excitement and joy is very different from the happiness that we experience because of the positive elements of our practice. Rather than real happiness, this is the joy, the rush, that becomes a craving because of our addiction to the adrenaline of excitement.

“If we have insight into the empty nature of the four elements, they are no longer obstacles and we can take refuge in them. Then the four elements become ‘signless’ and we maintain our freedom and, as Master Linji said, we make good use of our surroundings. When we aren’t pressured by a situation, the fire can’t burn us and we can use fire to cook rice and warm the house. When the water can’t drown us, we can use it to wash and to water the vegetables in the garden. When the earth doesn’t corner us, so it can become the foundation of a house or a garden. When the wind isn’t an obstruction, we can use the wind to dry our clothes or fly a kite.

“When we are no longer caught in the signs, when we can see the empty nature of the four great elements, we are no longer afraid of them. When we know their true nature we can take refuge in earth, water, fire and wind, and they cannot obstruct us. Instead of fearing the water, we can ride the waves.”

Source: Thich Nhat Hanh, Nothing to Do, Nowhere to Go, Waking Up to Who You Are, p. 120, 121

My Comment:

The core statement here for me is that “we make good use of our surroundings” when we are not caught up and attached to them and to the situations in any way. As long as we are attached to the satisfactions we derive from accomplishments or reaching our goals, we cannot be free and the life circumstances dominate and run us. Sensual desire can appear as the craving that pulls us in like a strong current when we have given our allegiance to a great project. Also the excitement of creating something can be a rush of adrenaline that we can be dominated by if we do not continually sharpen our awareness of the truth of the signlessness of all phenomena. 

When we are able to be aware of our unconditional inner freedom and supreme allegiance to our True Being, which Master Linji calls our True Person, then we can make good use of our surroundings. What does it mean to make good use of our surroundings? Master Linji states his advice: “All you need is a bowl of brown rice, a mantle of cloth, and apart from this you should give all your psychological force and time to find the good spiritual friend.” We make good use of our surroundings when we use them to find the good spiritual friend, i.e. our True Being. If I do not have this purpose clear before me during my days, I waste my life. From this perspective and in this posture every foray out into this 3D world for the purpose of creating a peaceful and orderly life, and living with love and compassion for myself and for all beings, is loaded with many opportunities and challenges to strengthen my presence power and my stability in remaining connected to the good spiritual friend.

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One thought on “the good spiritual friend

  1. Pingback: your lives in a very natural way – zen | New Earth Heartbeat

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