As It Is
“However insistently the blind may deny the existence of the sun, they cannot annihilate it.” ― D.T. Suzuki
Zen teaches us that a life of calm exists within each person should we choose to access it. There is a rock-solid spiritual core that can be known by anyone with the proper tools of self-knowledge and reflection.
One’s innate spiritual wisdom is uncovered during meditation. The external self is forgotten and a deep wellspring of inner knowledge is accessed. I call this natural wisdom. It cannot be acquired; it is uncovered. The process of uncovering it takes work and devotion. It is foolish to think that just because anyone can access this inner calm that anyone will. Only a very small portion of the population meditates. Hopefully it will grow more popular, but throughout human history ‘the masses’ have remained such precisely because they refuse a certain degree of commitment, either by choice or circumstance.
Onto the real point, though: just because the calm exists within you and is determined by you does not mean that ‘out there’ isn’t chaotic and crazy. This is a mistake I made for a while in my understanding of meditation. I thought that somehow changing my thinking would change the world.
Changing your thinking doesn’t ever change the fact of natural wisdom. It doesn’t change the world, either. Humans think they are changing the world when all they are doing is changing their relationships to other humans. Changing your thinking simply changes your reaction to the world. If you try to force the world to change, or even to force yourself to acknowledge the facts of the world through a new lens of subjective delusion, you will remain stuck in a mental trap.
This was a crucial realization for me. The world is often outrageous and insane. Nature knows no morals and humans are always changing theirs to fit the tides of historical back-and-forth. What is best for us in the long-run rarely appears to be best for us in the short-run, and vice-versa. Everyone’s always fighting over things like this. Good and evil and everything in between are floating around always. The world is as it is. It is as it has been. It existed before you and will continue to exist after you. Eventually, all life and matter will cease to be. This is the external world. As long as you remain alive, your internal world can connect with the infinitude of the external world.
This is where inner-wisdom comes in. Cultivating it brings you closer to the world as it is rather than you forcing yourself upon the world in an attempt to project a false reality onto it. The lesson of true reflection is that it can’t be anything other than what it is. Peace arises when we stop trying to change everything all the time and can simply be.