I’m sitting here at a restaurant in Magdeburg, Germany watching and listening to six senior men talk with each other, in German, about politics. It is the morning after the Manchester terrorist, suicide bombing in England where 22 youth lost their lives. I see reflected in myself a fear that they share about what will come of myself and all that I have come to know myself to be. It is not so much spoken but more hidden in their verbalized concerns, assertions, opinions and distrusts. Something is lost in their articulation of words. It doesn’t seem to express the body directly. There is sophistication and an intellectual focus that makes matters confusing. There is no universal agreement accept to look to blame some external entity.-
As these men do, we seem to see and experience reality through our own unique lens of understanding. This lens of understanding is influenced by when and where we live (time and space). Collectively, our ideas and concepts about reality ultimately influence how we experience life. Therefore, our ideas, beliefs, and concepts (most of which aren’t even ours, but are inherited) will determine our perceived reality. This means that in terms of space and time, the “me” of here and now is probably going to experience reality differently
From Sāntideva’s Bodhicaryāvatāra:
My foes will become nothing,
My friends will become nothing,
I too will become nothing,
Likewise all will become nothing.
I am once again adjusting to my place here in Germany. I am aware, possibly more directly than these men of a sense of uncertainty and fear, perhaps of what will become of me and all my familiar thoughts, that have provided some superficial substance. Am I abandoning all that I am or is it only ideas and concepts that have actually served more to define me and limit my experience? Are my perceptions and definitions of self something real and permanent and of an authentic essence or are they arbitrary and incomplete? Is this new and different environment a threat to what I am or is it possibly an opportunity to open, confront and be with my fears, doubts and insecurities and delusions in a way that I have not in the past known. Will it open and transform me in a way that my old habits and striving for security and stability would not. Can I discover something more authentic of what I am in the emptying of concepts, beliefs and habitual thinking ; something organic of a more fundamental essence than what I have come to believe myself to be.