Thursday, July 5, 2012

Beyond independence

The 4th of July means different things to different people. For some, it's just a day off, for others it's a day of barbecue, drinking, or shopping, and still for others it's a day of celebrating American independence--a day or patriotism. My parents are indifferent immigrants, so the day has never held any real significance for me.

Yesterday, though, as my family and I watched the fireworks from our seats on the lawn of Burger King (yes, you read that correctly: Burger King's lawn is where we watched the fireworks at Sesame Place, PA), all of the traditional ideas that surround this American holiday--America(n), patriotism, democracy, freedom,  justice--washed over me.

What are these concepts that we wield so often in conversation, that inform our identities and politics, and that people are willing to die to defend or kill to spread?

What are these? Ideas, of course, but "what" are they? I dug my mental heels into the hoatou, the primary form of Five Mountain Zen practice.

What are these? What is this day? Who is experiencing all of this?

As the fireworks crackled in the sky, a garden of sparkles against the dark of night, I was engulfed in Don't-know. My son danced on the lawn, much to our parental chagrin, while my daughter munched on french fries. My wife sat on the Hello Kitty blanket and watched my son with one eye and the fireworks with the other.

America, American, human, self, other? All are ideas that, by nature, categorize and separate.

Only don't know. 

Interdependence, interpenetration, emptiness? More ideas. Zen isn't interested in positing more ideas; it cuts right through conceptual thought.

Are the fireworks inside or outside my mind? More gum flapping.

Only this, thus--don't know.

Just fireworks exploding against the tapestry of the night. Children's laughter, a Burger King sign blazing bright. 

Happy belated holiday everyone. May all beings find peace, freedom, and joy.

Photo borrowed from Creative Commons flickr user: bayasaa's photostream.

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