Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Nothingness of Mu

As a creative person I am constantly seeking to discover myself, to remodel my own identity, and to find meaning in the universe through what I create. I find this a valuable integrating process which, like meditation or prayer, has little to do with other people, but which has its own separate validity. My most significant moments are those in which I attain some new insight, or make some new discovery; and these moments are chiefly, if not invariably, those in which I am alone.

I find myself forever in a state that is not unlike that of the practitioner of Zen Buddhism, seeking my true nature. The matter of "my nature" has puzzled and eluded me my entire adult life. What could it mean? Did it exist? If it did, what on earth would I do with my "own nature?" Frame it, hang it on the wall? Burn incense to the thing? What is so important about my nature?

Finally, after years of seeking, some truth dawned. Whoever looks for his own nature is lost from the start. I can find something temporary -- my personality -- but who, including myself, cares about that? Mostly the personality is boring and irritating. As long as it is used as a polite mask, expressing a little loving kindness in daily dealings, as long as it pays bills, does the regular routine in a pleasing manner, the personality will serve until the day the body, another not too important and temporary manifestation, falters and is no more. I'm not my mask. Surely I'm not my body, either. The body is a useful instrument, to be washed and shaved, fed, treated kindly, but we don't have to get ridiculous here. It doesn't really matter that much. Do we care about the body's longevity, the personality's eternity, do we care to have our minds repeating familiar thought patterns? Who is the Who who cares? There is the story about the monk with the troubled mind who goes to the master to quiet the damn thing. "Can you do that, sir?" "Let’s, see, my friend. Bring me your mind so I can examine it." "I can't find my mind, sir." "There you are, I have quieted it down for you." "The monk's mind is no longer troubled."

But all this is a play on words. Minds are never untroubled. It's the mind's business to be always busy, always troubled about something. If it isn't one damned thing, it's another. The mind is just an instrument, like a computer, to analyze daily troubles, order them, find a solution. Once that is done, take a nap and shut it down for a while. Put it in sleep mode. I'm not my computer, my mind, my body. What's beyond? Nothing. "Mu," says the Zen practitioner. Nothing. But Mu is a word used to express the inexpressible.

After years of seeking my true nature, I invariably come to the same conclusion. Forget me. There is no me. No me-nature, no real-nature, no true-nature, no nothing. I can probe the principle forever and I'll never see my nature. Why should I, anyway? Who cares?

And yet, I never stop seeking. My seeking is a circle. Round and round I go, seeking my true nature. Then despairing that I will ever find my true nature, I give up the search -- but only temporarily. In time I will begin the search again -- and again.

1 comment:

Stacey Mose said...

wow..pretty deep stuff, I wish i could speak in such a way as u do. i am impressed with your words. You have a good way desribing yourself..and man..the words u choose..i admire this gift u have!!! tata..have a good day!