Thursday, 26 April 2012

Perfection of Wisdom

Homage to the Perfection of Wisdom, the lovely, the holy.

There is on Earth no place of ease, because ease itself wears. Human beings cannot abide comfort, and so a true place of ease, if it existed, would be a place of torment. And therefore not a place of ease.

In discomfort we imagine that well-being would banish angst, but the rate of depression and suicide among the wealthy is roughly equal to that of the poor.

The Perfection of Wisdom gives light.

Yet the Acres were as near a place of ease as my soul could suffer. There I was free to practice, and to order my practice, and, vitally, to do both without censure. Constant casual criticism is the homemade hell of our time.

There were irritations all the same. And the worst was the motocross.

Unstained, the entire world cannot stain her.

I had two neighbours to the west. One was Paul. From his farm came the sound of Life. Tractors, trucks, mowers, Skilsaws. Ducks and dogs and doors. All singing bowls to me, the country boy fifty acres above.

The other neighbour had a motocross track.

She is the source of light, and from everyone in the triple world she removes darkness.

His track was part of a national circuit, a fully-appointed racing facility slashed into a clay ravine, like the "before" photo in a county extension erosion control brochure. On meet days, the roar never broke. It carpet-bombed the very air, one long, continuous holocaust from which there was no escape. The inferno savaged everything it touched. And it touched everything.

I am not of those who demand the world stop turning because they are meditating. In theory, a proper monk can sit calmly, even happily, through anything. I have always found amusing those sitters who solemnly quote the teaching that a student of Zen must be able to sit on the molten surface of the sun without requesting so much as a glass of water, and then pitch a fit about a loud washing machine or riotous children. Perhaps I'm being unfair; there are likely neither on the sun.

Neither I hope is there motocross, because that shit banishes even the hope of meditation. Race days, I found it impossible even to picture myself meditating.

There are sounds that are hard to sit with: rock music, yapping lapdogs, people screaming in anger or distress, or crying. I've sat with them all, but not well. On the mountain I sat happily with church bells and crowing roosters and laughing teenagers; less happily with chainsaws and bulldozers and gunshots. But the motocross destroyed everything in its path, utterly and without exception.

Most excellent are her works.

Fortunately the track was open only every other Sunday, and this year my other preceptor, the incessant rain, shut it almost entirely down until early July. "They can't race if the track is too soft," Paul told me. "I've seen RVs arrive two Saturdays now, and leave next morning without racing. It's the rain; too much mud."

I was glad to hear it, but not completely. The track was a business, one its owners probably depended upon to pay bills. And they clearly loved their sport, however alien it was to me. I've never understood the joy of ripping through green places on a motor, especially one that makes as much noise as possible. Very few of those people seem to have any real love of the outdoors. It's unjust to convict all for the crimes of some, but the tendency is there.

She brings light so that all fear and distress may be forsaken, and disperses the gloom and darkness of delusion. 

But at least this lot confined themselves to a track. Better still, they observed strict protocols. On race days the pest began at 0800 (I knew this because I never heard the 0900 church bell on those Sundays), and ran solid, without pause, until just after 1600. Then the wall of noise vanished, as at the turn of a single key. Once I heard a lone bike restart fifteen minutes later, rev several times, as if the rider were sussing out a malfunction, and then die instantly. "Are you crazy?" I imagined a comrade hiss. "Shut that damn thing off!"

She herself is an organ of vision. 

Whether these rules came of common decency, legal threats, or prudence, their mindful application made me feel for the washed-out meets, if only in retrospect.

As the rains retreated, slowly and unsteadily, through July, I learned to listen late Saturday for strains of heavy metal filtering over Bear Ridge. That meant the campground next to Paul's farm was filling, a flash mob of motor homes towing bike trailers, arriving for an event. This noise too would stop abruptly at 2100. Perhaps the young competitors made early nights, the better to race in the morning. More likely it was another rule.

She has a clear knowledge of being of all dharmas, for she does not stray away from it. 

But there never was such peace as descended, like floating silk, the moment the motocross stopped. Pure and sweet, a deep caressing calm that ravished the soul like wine. Then it was clear that it had been there all along, that soft, sleepy Sunday, smothered under fathoms of hell.

Perhaps the fault was mine, for not listening properly in the first place.

The Perfection of Wisdom of the Buddhas sets in motion the Wheel(s) of Dharma.


(Adapted from 100 Days on the Mountain, copyright RK Henderson. Photo courtesy of WikiMedia and Fir0002/Flagstaffotos.)
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