6 Jun
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Back at the Marketplace

More from Dancing with Life, by Phillip Moffitt:

A clear example of this understanding [that Finding Liberation from Suffering is Not the Same as Abandoning the Word] can be found in the Zen Oxherding pictures by Kakuan. This series of 10 drawings begins with a picture of a man having a sense that something is missing in his life, which is symbolized by the ox. Next he sees the footprint of the ox, which awakens inspiration in him to become his true nature. From there he searches until he finds the ox, develops a relationship to it, and then discovers its emptiness, i.e., cessation.

But the series doesn’t end with emptiness. In the last picture the man returns to the marketplace with a beatific smile on his face, and the text says that he ‘returns to the marketplace showing no sign of holiness, but if he touches the dead trees they come into full bloom.’

When you are around someone who has deep experience in cessation, it is like the description of the ox herder returning to the marketplace. Such a person resides in a feeling of freedom from attachment; they know that they know, thus they are able to freely participate in life. You feel assured, relaxed, even a little blessed being in their presence, as though the insight they have realized brings out the best in you, too. 

It’s true. This is exactly how I have felt when I’ve been around Phillip, as well as Mirabai and many, many of the other teachers at Spirit Rock and IMS.

(image by: Laurie Smith, from Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets)

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