HOW ABOUT A SUTRA?
by Jnana Hodson
As I revisit my copy of The Diamond Sutra and the Sutra of Hui Neng, the binding falls apart. How appropriate! The price, $2.95, says everything: this is a volume that has been carried from one end of the continent to the other and back, with a world of spiritual practice and discovery in between.
A sutra typically is a Hindu or Buddhist teacher’s discourse for aspirants.
The scarab, a symbol of ancient Egypt, originates as a beetle, By extension, it also becomes a symbol of transportation in the hippie era, leaping from there to the Hindu and Buddhist texts and back.
Break away from routine – job, home, neighborhood and friends, the commerce of community – just long enough to let the mind clear. Don’t fill the silences with radio, conversation, any music or dialogue but your own. From somewhere deep in the nervous system, atypical even random bits of memory and observation rise in unanticipated sequence. What ought to have been obvious all along suddenly asserts itself, perhaps with bold surrealism or jarring candor.
In a flash, the mind dances, as it will, with whatever engages it. Field notes, the words themselves, appear unadorned, without apology. Here something other than straight thinking presents its original mental hopscotch.
To a generation of Americans, the Volkswagen Bug represents cheap, easily repaired, carefree transport – often accompanied by adventurous first-time experiences and personal growth. In ways, the plain VW depicts a break between the routines of schooling and establishing families and careers to follow. A time, too, of spiritual exploration, with a flowering of Yoga and Zen, especially.
Here, then, the machine serves as a vessel into the Void, where the mind glimpses and tastes “all this fleeting world: a star at dawn; a flash of lightning in a summer cloud; a flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream,” in the words the Diamond Sutra (Vajrachchedika).
Listen to this teaching. As Hui Neng insists, “Mirror-like Wisdom is pure by nature.” And persevere!
Well, these are all at play in my newest poetry collection, Ripples in a Bejeweled Prayer Flag. Take a look at Thistle/Flinch editions.