Scale House

A scale house is a shelter for an outside scale apparatus that weighs and/or measures various things for a railroad, farm, or other freight business. More common in ages past, one can still see these small buildings in old railroad yards. But in this case, I am looking at a sign for the ScaleHouse Gallery, a downtown space hosting rotating exhibits comprising different forms of art. It seems to be a place to show ‘edgy’ stuff—from the perspective of my uneducated art palate. I have to admit, I do not ‘get’ a lot of the art here but it is intriguing nonetheless.

Today, I am smitten with something written on a wall near one painting: “Every door is an overhead view of you about to jump from what you think you know for certain into what you know you do not…(Signed), I Am Quite Certain. Reminds me of T.S. Eliot’s, “And what you do not know is the only thing you know…” Both expressions have a very Buddhist flavor. Knowing and certainty are the very banes of openness and prevent us from embracing the unknowable.

Jiddhu Krishanamurti often said our natural unfiltered mind is free from the known. It is not that we do not gain some useful knowledge helpful in day to day living. This is necessary. Yet clinging to the information makes us inflexible. This is why meditation is the art of letting go of clinging to what we think we know in favor of resting, or abiding, in the natural unlimited state of awareness. This quality of mind does not separate things into ‘knowable’ categories.

Ancient eastern traditions often refer to this unconditioned awareness. In the Sanskrit language the word maya, often translated as ‘illusion’, actually comes from from the verb root ma, “to measure, to limit, to give form.” Maya literally means, “she who measures”—the deluding or illusive power of the world when we cling to a measurable or knowable form. Imagine walking through any door without a preconceived idea—to jump from what you think you know for certain into the unknown. If we can do that, every door leads to enlightenment. No need for a scale house.

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