Monday, June 30, 2008

Prison or Paradise: Part One

Padma Padam
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

…it limits you tremendously to be trapped in the world of labels.
Eckhart Tolle

Becky and Pat are in Thailand – to be precise, they are on the island of Koh Tao, some 70 km from the Thai peninsula, in a tropical paradise.
Koh Tao has only recently become an “inhabited island” as people migrated there in 1947. Before that, from 1933 – 1947 it was used as a prison for political prisoners due to its lonely isolation.
Now, it’s a beautiful resort and a major dive site of Southeast Asia.

So one day the child is looking at the tree in openness and wonder.
That is still the state of oneness.
And the next day it has learned the word 'tree.'... "Oh, tree, tree!"
Yeah, that's right, that's what it is. Now let's go on to the next thing.
Many humans, from that moment onwards, they don't really look at the tree anymore because they think they know what it is.

And this is just one tiny example, of then thousands of concepts,
and then being imprisoned in that
and then having concepts about me.

Me? I’m in Atlanta.
I’m going to my job each day.
I’m not taking a vacation this summer. I’ve never been to a tropical paradise.
I’m shifting two and a half tons of rock from my driveway to backyard (well, actually – that’s my summer fun, creating a beautiful new rock garden… if my back holds.)

I got Becky’s email from Koh Tao last night after going to an Adyashanti Gathering.
On the DVD we watched, Adya was speaking of a man doing time in a prison in Florida.
The man had awakened while incarcerated.
He no longer thought of himself as being imprisoned. He’d found his monastery.

Adya said, “We’re all doing time.”
Do you think you can escape the planet?
Do you think you can escape your life?

Do you think you can escape your labels?

Koh Tao used to be a prison.
Now, it’s a paradise.

So our practice is meeting the Now fully.
We spoke of the possibility of allowing what is, to be.
And that means not imposing interpretations on it.
So let’s use where we are…
And see if we can meet Nature without imposing mental labels or interpretations on it…

This is a very important, very helpful way of stepping out of the stream of thinking. …
The prison of your mind, the prison cell, the conditioned mind, that most people identify with as themselves, as me,
that prison cell has hidden little exits.
Easy to overlook.
But it’s not really locked, they’re open.
And one such exit is, quite simply, sense perception.

…most people don't know this because all they know is whatever they perceive is immediately interpreted through the conditioned thought processes.
It’s compared to something else,
you find some personal relationship to it,
it reminds you of that,
or you simply put a label on it
and then you think you now what it is
and you inhabit a flat universe.

It lacks depth because the mental labels obscure to you the depth
that there is
and the aliveness
and the sacredness that there is in every living thing…

And it has happened that the greatest criminal turned into a saint.
Eckhart Tolle, from his Omega Retreat

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