Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Colored Blocks


is all that's left to tell what I know
not this     not that

just sitting alone in a bright room

being one raindrop of a spring shower

when we put away our colored blocks
the whole space is empty
mind blank       nothing to do

now a real life begins



     When I was a small child I had a set of colored blocks I loved to play with. They were made of wood, and each one had a different large, bright letter of the alphabet printed on all six sides. I can still see those letters, glowing so vividly in my mind's eye! And I still play with them in imagination, then mark down their fascinating combinations on a page, as I'm doing right this moment.

     But just as it was empty space then that provided the playground in which I built my towers of colored blocks, so it's perfect silence now which comprises the canvas on which I paint these intricate patterns of words. They grow from that silence; thrust up through feeling's fertile soil into the quickening light of consciousness; bud, blossom, bear fruit--and then decay, adding in turn their own tiny part to that endlessly renewing resource, that infinite soil of silence.

     We all have our sets of colored blocks, don't we--those magnificent obsessions which, at our best, we transform into creative achievements? Fully expressed, these self-actualizations are the very warp and woof of our culture--of civilization! By them, through them, if we're truly lucky, and blessed, we not only serve others; we also evolve in wisdom, compassion and character. They become spiritual callings through which we realize our destiny.

     Yet our greatest gifts and powers are also our most dangerous seductions and traps. To return to the metaphor of those colored blocks: if I become too mesmerized by them; too enthralled at the marvelous towers I can raise up; too enamored of my own amazing ingenuity, then I'm surely heading for a fall. Sooner or later, those over-elaborate constructs must come tumbling down. They were, after all, only temporary arrangements of perfectly empty space. But I'd forgotten all about the unqualified primacy of the void.

     I suppose this in another way of saying "Being Trumps Doing." Or, to perpetrate a reverse Descartes: "I am. Therefore I think." Being is the empty space, the perfect silence, the infinite soil from which grow all our bravest and finest labors of love. Unless I learn to define my identity, my self-worth, my innermost essence, in unconditional terms of sheer Being first, I'll inevitably attach excessive importance to my achieve- ments. "Look! Look! I can build the tallest, most intricate and dazzling towers of colored blocks! I must be the greatest blockhead of all!" Unfortunately--too true!

     Our real life only begins when we finally surrender equating even a scintilla of self-worth with anything we can do--no matter how unique and astonishing. Total emptiness engulfs even the most ambitious towers of colored blocks. Perfect silence is the womb birthing even the most extraordinary string of eloquent words. Pure Being is all...


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