Like Clouds; Like Water……. Rev. Master Mokugen Kublicki
I have recently rediscovered this extract on an old computer hard drive after losing it and trying to find it for almost 30 years on the internet. These extracts come from a piece of writing that affected me profoundly when I read it for the first time and still holds a lot of wisdom today and reinforces the concept of defusion.
“The nature of clouds and water is to flow. Going on, moving with dignity in space, full of vibrant life and adapting to conditions. If an obstacle arises or an obstruction is met, clouds and water find a way around. They do not judge that which arises before them, nor cling, but embrace it and flow around or through it in their pristine activity.
The true nature of our heart is the same: vibrantly alive, neither clinging nor resisting, but responding to the needs of the occasion, to that which needs to be done. Clouds are as the freedom of spirit which comes with responsible, wise understanding. As water flows, the nature of compassion is always there at the very heart of our being, cleansing and refreshing, always finding a way, pulsing with the brightness of innate generosity of spirit; an endless source that cannot in reality diminish or dry out; the very nature of all beings.
As clouds and water move, if we move with and accept and forgive the mistakes of both ourselves and others the pain is eased. But if we halt, dig in, make divisions, try to turn the clock back and refuse to look and accept, our heart is deeply saddened.
However dark the weight of our karma, the eternal source can never be diminished; however deep the hole we may have dug for ourselves, the nature of compassion and forgiveness is deeper and wider still.
If we are like clouds and water in relation to our pain or difficulty, that is, if we can continue to let the spirit of compassion flow through the pain that appears as an obstacle or blockage, then compassionate acceptance can embrace, comfort and purify that which attempts to cleave unity into disharmony.
What is necessary is opposite to our first animal instinct—escape: escape through anger, despair or indifference. Instead of turning away, suffering needs to be faced square on. Whether bereavement or a sense of rejection, anger, fear, illness or mental pain allow the spirit of clouds and water to flow into its very essence.
‘Be still’ is an earnest entreaty that needs investigating and to which we find greater depths as we keep up our practice. To be still is to be still in the heart of where we are now, to accept all that we find whether it is deep joy, pain, fear, anger, resentment...the lot! It is not a negative passivity but an alive and positive faith. To ‘be still’ allows the compassionate flow of acceptance into the heart of life and this releases the crippling strangle- hold of fear that our emotions can grip us with. We can see beyond the difficulty to the next step, and so are not limited by it.
Our body and mind need to be guarded carefully so that we do not indulge unreasonable expectations of self and others and do not stick rigidly to our opinions and criticisms—a sure fire collision course with suffering! We must learn not to repeat our mistakes and to use our body and mind with wisdom.
Peace is there for all of us no matter what our circumstances, and it is through not clinging or rejecting that this peace is found.
Like clouds.. .Like water...”
The problem that has engaged the resources of men and women for aeons is how to deal with and understand the weight of suffering that mistaken beliefs and actions inevitably bring.
The desire for succour and insight is inevitably great when pain is great, but it is precisely at this time that we have the potential to deepen our spirituality. Sadly, at that moment the choice for many is to flee; to somehow escape the pain of consequence of previous actions. Clinging to or rejecting just adds to the weight of suffering.
In one translation of Seng-Ts’an’s poem On Trust in the Heart there is a very helpful phrase:
‘Do not chase after entanglements as though they were real things. Do not try to drive pain away by pretending that it is not real. Pain, if you seek serenity in oneness, will vanish of its own accord.’
‘To seek serenity in oneness’ is to not split off pain from ourselves but to include it in the embrace of compassion. The act of ‘being still’ in mindful meditation or contemplation is true acceptance in action.
‘Volition is the doer of karma, and feeling is the reaper.’ That is, we have the choice of how we behave and think, and this means that we can change negative habits and find peace.
As we learn to unfreeze our clinging and ignorance through compassionate acceptance, true wisdom grows in our heart. We realize that feelings that are conditioned fade with time and do not have a separate permanent reality.
We need not be thrown off balance by the changing nature of emotions and events. Seeking serenity in acceptance and oneness, pain will vanish of its own accord. We have all seen examples of people who in the midst of deepest oppression or suffering, glow with a radiant inner peace.
This peace is there for all of us no matter what our circumstances, and it is through not clinging or rejecting that this peace is found.
Like clouds.. .Like water...”