by Rev. Koshin Schomberg

Chapter 11
An Infinity of Goodness

All things--good or bad, beautiful or ugly--should be treated as void [i.e. void of self, that is, fundamentally unreal and immaculate--KS]. Even in time of disputes and quarrels we should treat our intimates and our enemies alike and never think of retaliation. In the exercise of our thinking faculty, let the past be dead.

--The Platform Sutra, translated by Wong Mou-Lam


There are things that we can do, and there are things that we cannot do. This is as true in the arena of attitude and thought as it is in the arena of physical action.

We cannot just re-make our habitual attitudes and thoughts through an act of will. In fact, when we try to do this, we inevitably flip from one member of a pair of opposites to the other member. It may take us awhile to realize that both members of the pair of opposites perpetuate suffering.

There is, however, a Third Position. To find It, we need to withdraw within and allow the Eternal to help us.

The Third Position is the true Middle Path. The true Middle Path is far more than the practice of moderation. The true Middle Path transcends the opposites.

There is always an element of surprise and wonder in finding the Third Position. And there is always the comfort and consolation that derives from the re-discovery of Immaculacy:-- All is well; all will be well.

Returning Merit to Its Source

We tend to think of doing sange (contrition) when we have found that we have been wrong. But in a sense it is just as important to do sange when we have been right. For the essence of sange is relinquishing everything into the Hands of the Eternal.

Clinging to a mistake compounds error; clinging to a success creates error. As the Sixth Chinese Ancestor said, "All merit resides within our True Nature."

All merit can be entrusted to the Eternal. For the trainee, this leaves the spiritual "default position" that of "having nothing, knowing nothing, wanting nothing." Far from being a state of spiritual vacuity, this default position is one of natural spiritual buoyancy. For in this position, one intuits an infinity of potentiality for the manifestation of the creative Goodness of the Eternal.

And there is a place for the trainee within the unfolding and actualization of this infinity of positive potentiality. But we will not know what that place will be at any particular moment until we are in that moment. And it does not help to speculate ahead of time. It is enough to be content to follow the Eternal; it is enough to be willing to be used by the Eternal now and in the future.

Faith in Goodness

The ocean of merit, which is wholly within, and of, the Eternal, is an ocean of Goodness.

We can trust this Goodness implicitly. We need to trust this Goodness implicitly. We can recognize this Goodness with the Heart even when the head is confused by the fluctuating appearances of good and evil, kindness and cruelty, that manifest on the surface of life.

It is our choice whether we will restrict ourselves only to the surface of life and thereby know only fluctuating appearances--and be bewildered by them; or whether we will take refuge in our wonderful True Nature, and know--and be consoled by--the ever-renewing Goodness that lies at the Heart of all existence.



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