Spent Christmas Eve morning at the doctor’s. Possible pneumonia, so prescribed a heavy-duty antibiotic. The Doctor’s waiting room is a zendo, and today the sermon was a Disney Christmas movie playing on the corner wall TV, beaming down artificial cheer from actors pretending to be the characters in the contrived plot.
Somehow, this year seems a bit more transparent. Maybe it’s just me (still immersed in complications from the recent cancer surgery), but doesn’t the whole Holiday Spirit thing seem a bit more subdued this season, a bit more of an effort to celebrate, like going through the obligatory motions, but more of a perfunctory ritual, empty of any inherent pizazz? Anyway, just another thought.
Here now, all of us in the waiting room are pretending to be various persons with a variety of bodily complications. Most ignore the Disney movie beaming down from the wall, choosing instead to thumb their electronic devices, and generally ignoring the people they came in with, even though they are sitting right next to them.
How many different dimensions are being currently occupied just by the people in this room? The intricacies of this tiny slice of consciousness are beyond the comprehension of the human intellect. The mind cannot go there, it falls silent. In that silence, we are all sitting, unaware of the vast implications of being anywhere at all — just taking it all for granted. Amazing!
In the midst of this unspeakable wonder, the staff behind the desk are all talking with each other about their Holiday plans, as if all of this was undeniably real. I go along with the merry charade, tacitly confirming the solidity of the collective perception — that we are in a literal place, that something is happening, that we are all separate, and that this is a special time in the midst of timelessness, a magical time in which we grant a consensus significance to the celebration of a mythical story about a divine baby who incarnated in the Middle East millennia ago to redeem the dream world from its sins. I’ve heard that God can do things like that!
Now I notice the arising movement of mind on contact with phenomena, and how it instantly creates and confirms a whole vibrating scenario. So this is delusion! I also see how even the slightest effort to mentally modify it in any form of strategic method merely adds to the complication. Even the movement to just observe has an artificial quality, so another layer down, and that effort is let go. The teacher said: “Do not try to have good thoughts, do not try to keep away bad thoughts, do not try to stop thoughts, and do not try to go after them. Rather, rest in a state of being aware . . .”
Soon, there is nothing but the appearance, the sound of the TV, the chatter of the staff, and then that too gradually fades, as if attention is submerging in a kind of void, and within this void, a subtle intuition seems just about to reveal itself, when in the far distance a voice is calling my name, the word that I offered to them to represent myself. “Robert, Robert . . .”
My head raises up, I blink my eyes, I am in a waiting room at the Doctor’s office. I am surrounded by fellow beings. It takes a while to get my bearings. Yes, my name. I stand up and hobble over to the door. I am admitted to the inner part of the office, where my body is weighed. It seems that it has lost some weight, which is noted in the device the nurse thumbs.
Then I am led to a small room to wait for the Doctor. I am asked if I can say my last name and birth date. With no effort at all, I am able to provide the requested information. Then the blood pressure in my arm is checked. The nurse says a number, as if I am going to approve or not. I just Thank her for the number.
Now, I am ready to see the Doctor. I am told the Doctor will be right along. The nurse remembers something as she is going out the door. She turns slightly in my direction, and says “Merry Christmas.” When I return the saying, she seems satisfied that the proper ritual has been observed, and closes the door.
After the visit, I walk out into the chill air, and light is falling everywhere. I am that same light, moving within itself, remembering and forgetting and then remembering itself again and again. There is a wordless recognition, and it is enough. It has always been enough. Later tonight, they say we may get snow.
“As long as you, like most people, fail to recognize the true value of human existence you will just fritter your life away in futile activity and distraction. When life comes all too soon to its inevitable end, you will not have achieved anything worthwhile at all. But once you really see the unique opportunity that human life can bring, you will definitely direct all your energy into reaping its true worth by putting the Dharma into practice.”
~ H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche