Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dharma at 45 mph

On the way home from my daughter's karate class on Monday, she said, "Do you see the air, Daddy?" I knew that she was kidding, and so I naturally played along.

"Yeah," I said, not realizing the full import of what I had just said. And then out of nowhere it hit me--I did see the air. I can't put the realization into words because it will sound too philosophical, and the experience was much more immediate than that.

Looking at the houses whir by, I realized that I was seeing the air. The houses and trees and grass that I saw were only visible because of the air's transparency, so when I saw, say, a car, I was seeing the car and the air and all of the other conditions that were present which allowed me to see. I was seeing my eyes and my mind and the sun and earth.

It was all there. All of it, the whole darn symphony. And none of this occurred on an intellectual level; it was all unmediated. Just whoosh! 

Later, when I told my wife, the scientific skeptic, she disagreed and rattled off some scientific answer about vacuums, space, and air.

But that was beside the point. The point is, in the moment I saw the air in those houses zooming by. It was all there, unobstructed. Still later, this made me think of Huayen Buddhism and the Avatamsaka Sutra, which teaches that all dharmas, even the smallest atoms, contain the entire cosmos. Everything is the Absolute.

In my car on Monday, I stared in wonder at the universe unfolding in front of me in the form of 60's-style Cape Cods and speeding traffic.

And then I arrived home and ate dinner. Perfectly spectacular and perfectly ordinary at the same time.

Photo borrowed from Creative Commons flickr user: Dave Bleasdale.

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