Conduct and observance

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Monday, May 7, 2007

On the nature of vessels

Here are a few of my own thoughts on the last post.

The essential nature of vessels is found within their emptiness. We identify vessels through their outer form- which may give us an indicator as to their purpose- but it isn't the outer form that determines what a vessel is. A vessel is, at its heart, only one thing, and that is a container.

Containers come in varying sizes. One container may be used to hold air; another, a liquid, and yet another something solid. The character of some vessels is to produce resonance; for others, to offer repose. Still others become crucibles for reactions.

Whatever the charachter and purpose of the vessel, its chief defining feature ought to be seen for what it is: emptiness.

We can all easily see how silly it would be for the jar to think it was the wine, or the pot the corn; yet don't all of us make that same mistake? In the process of what Gurdjieff called identification, our consciousness habitually mistakes itself for its contents. Buddhist non-attachment is chiefly a practice of trying to find repose within the emptiness of the vessel, rather than engagement with its contents.

We are not what flows into the vessel. We are the experience of what flows into the vessel. In understanding this we see that our essential nature is one born of, and built on, relationship itself, and not the results of relationship. Results of relationship are secondary. It is the very movement into and out of relationship itself that creates what we call Being.

This simple truth is a difficult hurdle. We are so committed to being the event that we fail to participate in the event of Being.

I am back in China now, and off to Ningbo and Hangzhou this morning.

May your flowers bloom in this morning's sun, and your nectar flow abundantly!

Love to you all,


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