Sunday, March 18, 2012

Small Boat in a Big Ocean

It started with a request from the accountant. I needed to find out the exact price I had paid for my old house fifteen years ago. Buried in a pile of old papers,  the information surfaced, and other tidbits also that brought me right back to that time. Mind was quick. The divorce, details of the parting, images of my ex, of the children so young then . . . heart got flooded all of a sudden with a strong current of emotions. Grief, sadness, remorse, regret, love welled up, and I could feel myself going down, fast. 

Now was the moment, I felt, to experience things differently. The last few days' insight still fresh, awareness begged to take a different standpoint. Image of small boat shaken by a strong wind and ready to capsize popped into my mind, and I knew of a better place to be than in it. The ocean was vast, and I could sense the vastness that can absorb all. That afternoon's ripple was very small indeed, another conditioned phenomenon, transient emotions tied to a cause that would soon vanish as they always do.

I stood, sat, and walked with the emotions, and the awareness of the emotions, and the wisdom filtering through. And responded to the even greater love calling. Oh! the joy . . . 

Another related insight I have had lately deals with the subtle common misunderstanding of enlightenment and what it must feel like. The way I view this big word, is as a moment-to-moment phenomenon, when the truth of the big ocean makes itself known. It does not mean not experiencing and feeling pain, or difficult emotions, or unpleasantness. Instead it is about being with the whole package differently, and accepting things the way they are, letting go of the wanting that life would be all pleasure and satisfaction. An enlightened person is one for whom enlightenment is an ongoing phenomena. For most of us, it comes and goes.

How do you relate to the small boat and the big ocean? Do other images speak more to you? What does being enlightened mean to you?


  1. I like the image of the boat and it is used in a lot of Buddhist references. A Dogen quote comes to mind:
    “When you ride in a boat and watch the shore, you might assume that the shore is moving. But when you keep your eyes closely on the boat, you can see that the boat moves." Has some relevance to your thoughts here.

    And I believe there is a Dogen quote in "Rules for meditation" that says training and enlightenment are the same thing. I can't say I ever really think about enlightenment, just the gradual chipping away at unwholesome habits, that fills my plate plenty!

    Hmm seems like I'm on a Dogen roll tonight

  2. Thank you, Carole. Yes, I too heard about the image of the boat and the far away shore. In my recent experience, I have felt moved to different standpoint, that of container for deep ocean, and the currents and winds and the tiny boat in the middle.

    Regarding enlightenment, I am with you, as it is not something I really think about or is a goal even. It is just yet another image that speaks to those fleeting moments when things just become very clear.

    Being on a Dogen roll seems like a good thing!

    Thank you for your visit. I always treasure your wisdom.