Advertisement

Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Metaphor Monday: Full Circle


heartofuniverse.jpg

It’s the end of the calendar year and we’ve traveled “full circle” from the beginning to the end of this year. As if by magic, on January 1 we’ll be starting anew (even though we are really just continuing, one moment after another).

Mu Soeng, in The Heart of the Universe: Exploring the Heart Sutra, offers a compelling
metaphor for enlightenment with the image of a circle. 

Advertisement

Imagine a circle, the bottom
of the circle would be 0 degrees (or 6 PM if you prefer to imagine a clock).
This is where we find ourselves living in samsara still caught up in greed,
hatred, and ignorance. Not awake and not awake to the possibility of being
awake. 

Having come into contact with the dharma, one has the opportunity to
intellectually understand the Four Noble Truths and concepts like dependent origination. You
are now at 90 degrees (or 3:00 on the clock) This awareness is intellectual not
experiential. 

When it becomes experiential we would find ourselves at 180
degrees on the circle (or noon on the clock). Here we have the opportunity to
experience primordial moments and transcend the suffering created by
involvement with the Three Poisons of greed, hatred, and ignorance. To the extent that we can transcend our categories,
this is experienced at 180 degrees. 

Advertisement

Buddhahood would occur if one keeps
proceeding around the circle to 270 degrees (or 9 on the clock). This state is
described as Anutarra Samyak Sambodhi

Coming full circle to 360 degrees (back
to 6 o’clock) is “nirvana in action … by employing skillful means rooted
in wisdom and compassion.” 0 is the same place as 360. We end where we begin — in the world — yet different.

This is a very different image then going from point A (samsara) to point B (nirvana) traveling along a path. This image is a trap for striving and Type A achievement mind set that actually interferes with our spiritual progress. 

Advertisement

Full circle reflects the classic Zen wisdom that in the beginning the mountains are the mountains and the rivers the rivers (0 degrees); in the middle the mountains are no longer mountains and the rivers no longer rivers (90-270 degrees); and in the end the mountains are once more the mountains and the rivers the rivers (360 degrees). The world remains the same; we have transformed.

  • Colleen

    I love the image of the circle of life…there is no beginning and no end, but rather a continuous process, offering us the opportunity to change, learn, grow, evolve…or not…
    “The winds of Grace are blowing all the time.
    It is up to us to raise our sails.”
    (Ramakrishna)

Previous Posts

Finding our True Selves in the Vastness of Nature
What is the self beyond language concept, and story? Can we find an identity in the unfolding awareness of the moment? When we let go of stories and release ourselves into the flow of the moment, we start to realize the world that we live ...

posted 10:55:04am Apr. 22, 2016 | read full post »

Check the Balance of Your Equanimity Equity
At a recent workshop at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, I coined a new phrase: equanimity equity (EE). EE is the rationale for ...

posted 7:39:16am Mar. 19, 2016 | read full post »

Getting to Forgiveness
I was recently interviewed again by Brianna Steinhilber of EverUp. This time on Forgiveness. Read her excellent piece here that quotes me. ...

posted 5:40:52pm Feb. 24, 2016 | read full post »

Handling Rejection
I was recently interviewed by Brianna Steinhilber of EverUp for a piece on dealing with rejection. You can read her very thoughtful story ...

posted 6:03:05pm Feb. 09, 2016 | read full post »

Accessibility and the Precious
I had an interesting dream image last night. I was observing a fantastic display of the aurora borealis--Northern lights (or it might have ...

posted 9:14:31am Jan. 31, 2016 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.