May 23, 2009

Fixation's final seduction

From Stephen Batchelor in Verses from the Center: A Buddhist Vision of the Sublime,
Fixations are deeply embedded traits of human behavior. They do not magically evaporate the moment one experiences the world as "unfixatable." However liberating such insight may be, it is insufficient to free one from the habit of fixation. Once the intensity of the unfixated moment fades, fixations reassert themsleves. Even the experience of freedom itself is not immune to the corruption of fixation. As Nagarjuna is aware:

"I am free! I cling no more!
liberation is mine!" –
The greatest clinging
Is to cling like this.
A glimpse of freedom does not in itself free one from the craving to be someone special and apart. To be free from such longing entails the patient, ongoing cultivation of an intelligence that is acutely alert to the danger of self-deception. The aim of this process is to go beyond the very need to stand out. As Nagarjuna says,

Clinging is to insist on being someone–
Not to cling is to be free to be no one.
These lyrics [written by Kerry Livgren] for the Kansas song "Reason to Be" are insightful:

So long, someone is waiting
I got places to go, I got things to see
No more procrastinating
For this is the moment that was meant for me
And I'm moving like a wave on the ocean
Drifting to the opposite side
Traveling with no destination
Just riding the tide

People they say that I'm foolish
They say that I'm living in a fantasy
Well, I say, everything's easy
It's better than living in futility
So, I'm standing here in back of the curtain
Waiting for the start of the show
Acting like an actor is easy
If you can let go

Some day something will find you
A magical feeling you could not foresee
A feeling so devastating
From that moment on your life's a comedy
And suddenly you're light as a feather
You're falling like a leaf from a tree
The things you thought you needed are fading
No reason to be
No reason to be
Your reason to be
Your reason to be
Reason, Reason to be
Reason, Reason to be
Reason, Reason to be
In a passage in the poem Self, Nagarjuna offers a glimpse of the sublime depth disclosed when the constricting hold of fixations is eased:
It is all at ease,
Unfixatable by fixations,
Incommunicable,
Inconceivable,
Indivisible.
Not only is the subjective experience one of ease, but ease is revealed as a feature of the sublime itself. For not only do fixations generate conflict and anguish, they also obscure a natural world that endlessly unfolds and vanishes, untroubled by the desires and fears of humankind.

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