“The nun Wu Jincang asked the Sixth Patriach Huineng, “I have studied the Mahaparinirvana sutra for many years, yet there are many areas I do not quite understand. Please enlighten me.”
The patriach responded, “I am illiterate. Please read out the characters to me and perhaps I will be able to explain the meaning.”
Said the nun, “You cannot even recognize the characters. How are you able then to understand the meaning?”
“Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon’s location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?”
The story fascinated me completely and I began to wonder how many times in my life have I just bothered about the finger and not the moon. Another parallel I can draw here is from a book called “Sphere Of Silence” by Dato Vijay Eswaran. He talks about two friends who go to the beach for a walk to watch the sunrise. One friend is totally enamored by the beauty of the rising sun and is enchanted with the scene, while the other focuses on the mosquitoes biting him !
How many of us miss the sunrise for the mosquitoes…how many of us focus on the finger rather than the moon. The battle is within ourselves. Where is my focus and what do I want? In the bargain, what am I missing?
Eckhart Tolle said, “analyzing the the pointer is pointless”. Yet, we are all of guilty of it. We tend to analyze the pointers without noticing it. If we are discussing about whether something is good for us or not, especially if we come to a philosophical or emotional debate, we are discussing the validity of models and concepts. We can also go out and experience something directly.
Inner Belief – My Map
The map is the concept of what we have in mind about something. It’s a belief, an image or a thought-pattern. We use this map in the same way as we use a city-map to find a location. If our map is correct, we will find our location. If it is slightly incorrect, we have to correct it by new knowledge, optimize it. If it is completely incorrect or we move to another city, we have to replace the map altogether. We need to keep changing our map… regularly.
A second map is the map of self-image. We also call it the ego. It is the map of ourselves and we act from it. We want to improve our self-image and we use our intellectual abilities to do so. We have our desires and we set goals and work towards them. The map called the ego is a very useful map that we constantly create ourselves. But here is the important thing: it is still a map.
It’s nice to have a map, as long as you know it’s a map
Which means two things…
1. The map can change : in other words our ego, who we think we are, can change and this is the basis of personal development. This changing map includes our thoughts, beliefs and actions: the whole world-view and the self-image.
2. The map is not the territory : as long as I don’t let my ego get the better of me, my life can be dedicated to a lot of good things. The moment “I” becomes stronger than the “We”, the map becomes our territory. Bhagvat Gita beautifully describes the ego as, ” nothing but identification of oneself with their body than soul.” Once we start digging deeper within ourselves, we understand having an ego to self protect is good, but being egotistical is self destruction.
So how do we recognize this…
2. Practicing silence
4. Writing our thoughts, dreams, opinions…
5. Reading & reviewing those thoughts, dreams, opinions…
6. Submitting to a learned one…who in turn will teach us what we don’t know or understand.
This doesn’t mean I remove maps from my life. I need the map to function in the world and to relate to everything. So I create maps and use maps in a very intense way, in the best way possible. But there is one difference: I constantly try to dis-identify the map from the territory. So I know that my self-image is my self-image but not the self.
It has truly helped in keeping the negative energy at bay and empowering me to work on what I truly deserve in my life.
Have a thoughtful day… 🙂