A Finger Pointing to the Moon

Master Po

Master Po say “Grasshopper never mind finger, go for moon”.

Well he probably put it rather better than that, but I think I have got the sentiment correct.

Ever since childhood I have had a fascination with Eastern philosophy and mysticism.  While I never rated their clothes, and always preferred Byrd and Tallis over kabuki & noh, if I had to choose a favorite creed it would be a mixture of Zen Buddhism with a hefty dash of Taoism.

All that going with the flow!

After so many years of reading, I have recently come back to this very apt Zen koan. I don’t want to do any more study.  Grasshopper he say….. no more words.

The direct experience is more important than the teaching. The teaching can only point you in the right direction, the reality, the experience of reality, you must find for yourself.

Though my tone is mocking, I believe this very profoundly. As I believe passionately in much of basic Buddhism.  I can do without the nutty tinpot gods and pure lands but those guys knew a thing or two about how to be a decent human being, as well as how to find personal happiness.

Because unless you are a happy bunny yourself you can’t spread the good word to others. I never did like Jeremiah. Or any of those miserable Old Testament Prophets.  God, were those ancient Jews a miserable bunch. Give me happiness any day over slavish obedience to a cruel old misery like Jehovah.

My eastern friends had no problems with a horrid deity who kept slapping them around the face and sending them pillars of salt, exile and slavery. Sodom.

I’m wittering. Let me be more concrete, come to the point.

You don’t need books of words to open the doors of perception. And for gods sake, if ever there were a case for the burning of books, then it is those written by modern self help gurus which should take the first lick of flames, the first match.  All those guys want is …..well perhaps I should let them speak for themselves?

“Power of Now”, my arse.

Help me, help, I’m waffling again. There is a serious point in all this rambling, I promise.

Nirvana – we all want it don’t we? Although the literal translation from the Sanskrit can be a little disconcerting – “a snuffing out”.

The closest approaches  I have made have all been chemically or physically induced. But then our every emotion is chemical anyway, if we did but know it. We are our chemicals.

My most profound moments of peace have tended to come not when poring over obscure texts but when out doing something in the real world.

The spiritual boost, the feeling of peace after mat exercises on the gym floor. The rhythmic movement of paddles through water on a sun filled sea. Lying on the grass on a dark, dark night staring incredulously at the milky way.  Chanting in Latin to music written by a 16th Century Spanish priest.

The moan of winter wind in the trees of my cottage garden, the drifting of my mind in meditation.  The strange effects of self hypnosis.  And yes, a microscopic dose of psilocybin now and then on a day when the world seems not so very benign.

I am sitting here now, in the dark, in the quiet, quiet English countryside with the blowing wind as my only companion. I feel great calm. I have no need of Mr Chopra, nor Mr Tolle. Nor any of their ilk.

I write but not so that you will read. I write as experience. I write to tease out my own truth, as catharsis.  I write for myself.

It is in writing that I can explain myself to myself. It is in writing that I can find out who and what I am. What I mean, what I feel, where I am and where I am going.

I write to experience the moon, not to see the finger pointing at it.


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