91. The Head and the Body

Artwork by Blair Thomson
Kusen 91 collaboration ‘wholeness dispersed no. 1’ by Blair Thomson

Those who fall to the ground, get up relying on the ground.

Interdependent origination is difficult for us because we have an unexamined idea of time: it is like an arrow, going from past to future, yet past, present and future don’t have equal weight. The past is like an accumulating avalanche, flooding into the empty space of the future. The present is the interface between the two. The ground is invisible.

When we sit, there is the opportunity to experience time in a different way. The head of the present moment is balanced on the body of the ground, and it can go anywhere.


75. Dependent Origination

Kusen collaboration artwork by Margaret Kerr

The foundation of buddhism is dependent origination. The most frequent metaphor for that is Indra’s Net.

We can’t know, but it seems a reasonable guess that the inspiration came from someone looking up at the night sky; the glistening stars through the clear dark air.

For that person, the image was static. For us, it’s dynamic, because we know that when we look at the sky, we’re looking at time. Many of the stars we appear to be seeing are no longer there. There.

From this dharma position, here, now, the star exists. From another dharma position the star doesn’t exist. From the position of the whole, the star exists and doesn’t exist. Hence, empty.

And not just for the star, obviously.


71. The Ocean and the Wave

The Great Ocean is a frequent metaphor in Buddhism for the inter-connectedness of all being. The whole ocean effects each part. Each part effects the whole. Each part effects each part. If anywhere changes, everywhere changes. Nonetheless, the wave fully lives his own life.

Until the moment of our death, we are sustained by all things. The medicine for suffering is not enlightenment, but gratitude.


54. Indra’s Net

The Net of Indra is one of the most beautiful images in Buddhism. We are asked to imagine existence as an infinity of infinitely faceted jewels, in infinite space, each reflecting everything.

We can speculate that the image could be derived from looking up at the star filled sky, endless and infinite.

Of course, we now know that some of these stars are no longer there. We are just seeing their light. From the perspective of the star’s ego, it no longer exists. From the perspective of the universe, it does.

The teaching is like this.

Life–and death–is like this.