I read this powerful section yesterday in Ken Wilber’s book One Taste, just one of so many intense paragraphs in this volume that scream profound truth:
“The perfect person,” said Chuang Tzu, “employs the mind like a mirror: it accepts but does not grasp, it receives but does not keep.”As this mirror-mind awareness (or constant consciousness) grows stronger, the gross waking state becomes more and more “dreamlike,” in the sense that it loses its power to overwhelm you, to shake you, to make you believe that passing sensations are the only reality. Life starts to look like one great big movie, and you are the unmoved Witness watching the show. Happiness arises, you witness it; joy arises, you witness it; pain arises, you witness it; sorrow arises, you witness it. In all cases, you are the Witness, and not some passing surface wave of silly sound and fury. At the center of the cyclone, you are safe. A deep and inward peace begins to haunt you; you can no longer manufacture turmoil with quite the same conviction.
This imagery gives me a lot of hope; I’m inspired that a fellow human being can experience this dynamic and be able to describe it to others. At the same time I recognize the inherent difficulty of putting it into practice. Our days are full of choices, pressures, and stresses that convince us that the “movie” is real, and we grasp tightly to the mirror with all of its smudges and cracks. Given the opportunity–and opportunities abound–we will either chose to “manufacture turmoil” or get harnessed by someone else’s generous manufacturing efforts.
The conscious awareness that Wilber describes is achieved, I suspect, by more than just a decision to live into it. The decision is essential, certainly, but must be followed by practice. Practice happens a moment at a time. Practice necessarily involves regular failure, which is why it’s called practice.
I haven’t yet figured out how to remember to practice at each crucial call to attachment that greets me across the day. That’s why I devour books like Wilber’s and love to engage in conversations with people on this topic, because I want to always keep practice on the front burner. I might never “master” mindfulness, but I’ll never give up the quest.