Wednesday May 10, 2006
In response to a previous comment on this site, I wrote “through cultivating metta and clarity, we muddle through as best we can…” The more I think about it, the more it appears to me that it really is a case of muddling through. We are born, we live for a short while, and then we die. In this brief interval between life and death we try to make sense of the world, we try to live well whilst working out what it might mean to live well, we form friendships and fall out with each other, we spin endless webs of words and thoughts – webs that may allow us to move spider-like across breathtaking voids, or that may entangle us and prevent us from moving very far at all. We do our best to do our best.
Metta – positive emotion – and clarity help. Or at least they seem to help. And often we are astonishingly good at making sense of things. But I think it is good to remind ourselves that we are still muddling through, making it up as we are going along. It is a relief to remember that we do not have to work the whole thing out, that we are by no means obliged to crack the code of existence. Without needing a final answer, it nevertheless seems as if knowledge is a good and useful thing. Kindness, also. And it seems as if these two things – knowledge and kindness – are united in a particular quality of attentiveness to which Gary Snyder testifies:
Pine Tree Tops
in the blue night
frost haze, the sky glows
with the moon
pine tree tops
bend snow-blue, fade
into sky, frost, starlight.
the creak of boots.
rabbit tracks, deer tracks,
what do we know.
Gary Snyder, Turtle Island
The sky glows with the light of the moon; and here below we move through a world of traces. What do we know?
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