Nothing Is as It Appears

This morning the thermometer reads eleven degrees. Outside, the sun is making an effort to burn through fog formed in a stubborn atmospheric inversion—a condition in which cold air is trapped by a higher altitude layer of warm air. Skiers high in the mountains have warm sunny skies while we in the lowlands are shivering under a frosty mist. Everything is upside down.

This is nature’s way of messing with our assumptions. I attended a solar energy conference in the 80’s where a participant used incense sticks to prove warm air does not always rise. He demonstrated that cold air can chase warm air around and, in some cases, may force warm air to sink.

We humans often draw hard conclusions about reality as though we are privy to some immutable laws. But even the laws of physics are  paradoxical, as in the case of light (photons) behaving as both particles and waves.

When Buddha relaxed into his indeterminate mind, he experienced natural awareness behaving as both thought and fluidity. He realized the empty nature of immutability—that things aren’t always as they appear. He also suggested that things are exactly as they are. Nothing is as it appears—nor is it otherwise.

I find this reassuring because I know the way my mind frames an event in this moment may be completely different in the next. In early stages of meditation we become aware of the fickle nature of thought and belief. Nothing is as it appears. With more practice, we notice the world just happens to wiggle a lot and we aspire to be skillful in the face of the wild oscillations. Everything is just as it is.

Following our intention to be more flexible, our perception is clearer. We are able to beneficially change our minds in every quivering moment. Through unconditional love, we become shape-shifters for the benefit of all beings.

Love is like that. It simply flows according to what is needed and does not have a graspable consistency. Like water, it can be solid, fluid, or vapor. No one form is right or best in all circumstances. Sounds like Bodhicitta.

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