Showing posts from February, 2011


Even if my skin should parch
even if my hand should wither
even if my bones should crumble into dust,
until I have attained the truth
I shall not move from this seat

Thus spoke the Buddha on the eve of his awakening.

He had been following the example of ascetics and had endured five years of mental and physical deprivation, believing that austerity was the path to freedom. But it was not. He only became more confused and distraught. Then along came a woman by the name of Sujata who offered him milk and rice which he took to satisfy his hunger and, all at once, he was invigorated and, as the next day dawned, came to full awakening.

This story teaches us that perseverance is important but not to the point of extremism. Extremism is just another trap engaging the mind in battle and leading to more suffering. No matter how hard we try to free ourselves, trying is not the way out. The way out is the way out. Respecting our capacity enables us to find it.

my original face

Look at the theatre masks. The smile turned upside down is a frown, and the grimace a grin; the same muscles contract in different directions.

Now imagine the sound each makes; the sound of laughter or sobbing. They sound similar too except that laughing is “drier” like an explosion of fiery air, whereas sobbing is “wet” like the gushing of a dam when it breaks.

Although laughing and sobbing move energy in different directions*, they both release tension from the solar plexus and are accompanied by convulsions of the diaphragm and the shedding of heat and often tears.

They both split us open. That is why we say that something tragic causes us to “break up” or “burst into tears”, and that something very funny is “side-splitting”, or “cracks us up”. Like a kernel of popcorn that explodes with the heat, the fine shell that holds us together gives way. It is a form of deliverance or catharsis.

But what am I delivered from? What laughs when I laugh? What cries when I cry? And why is it that th…