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[HEADING: Beginning to Wonder]
1:1 The heart of the matter is this: to move toward enlightenment, you must begin with not-knowing. Genuine not-knowing is a completely open state of mind that always precedes the leap into a direct consciousness of Being. If you can make that leap right now—become directly conscious of the nature of self and reality—then close the book and go for it. There’s nothing left but for me to begin speaking on and on about self and mind, perception and consciousness.
1:2 If I were to say to you that in this moment your own mind and perceptions keep you from an experience of your true nature and the nature of reality, you may well wonder what I’m talking about.
That’s OK. Simply be open to the possibility that there may be something about yourself and reality that is “hidden in plain sight.” Not-knowing certainly isn’t the sole topic of this book, but rather the best state from which to read it. The real topic of this book is you.
1:3 If you’re interested in what “you” are all about, I might be able to help you with your efforts. But why would you care to take me up on that? Why would someone question his or her experience of self and reality? It certainly seems there are more pressing matters to deal with in life.
[SIDEBAR QUOTE: Chop wood, carry water.]
1:4 Some Zen sayings appear to be reminders for the monks to tend to earthly tasks. Perhaps this is to help keep their consciousness grounded in objective reality.
[SIDEBAR QUOTE: After ecstasy, the laundry.]
1:5 The monks might question deep matters of consciousness and being, but clearly life must go on. Maybe, like ours, the monks’ life is just laundry after laundry as well, but doesn’t it seem they’re more content with mundane chores than many of us are with all our acquisitions and entertainments?
1:6 Consider for a moment that the human condition is exactly the same in or out of a monastery—a condition of discomforting uncertainty. Wondering about the meaning of self and life seems to be universal, but outside the monastery, we generally let others provide the explanations for us. We don’t recognize how much we have to gain by looking into these matters for ourselves.
[HEADING: Beyond the Self Mind]
1:7 People seldom look for answers when they don’t have any questions. When reality is perceived as solidly “known,” it engenders no investigation—why would it? We seem to live our lives at face value and rarely look beneath the surface of our daily existence. We move through different circumstances—engaging in events,
interacting with others, judging, perceiving, reacting—all within our taken-for-granted worlds. We act as if we know what it’s all about. But something at the core of our being remains apprehensive about the possibility that our sense of reality and sense of self are somehow fabrications.
1:8 Well, it’s true—they are.
1:9 From infancy, the human mind struggles for certainty, continually drawing conclusions in an attempt to discern the meaning of everything we perceive. Many such skills are needed for self-preservation. We learn to recognize a relationship between hand and mouth, and pick out the sound of our mother’s voice, then quickly move on to essentials like “Will it eat me?” or “Can I eat it?”
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