I like feeling gobsmacked. All you, dear friends, who respond to these posts, keep me well gobsmacked by your compassion and wise, wise teachings. And then, there is a lovely lung-filling moment when that turning word appears in a book and I feel deliciously gobsmacked that I knew this and now know it again in a deeply different way.
Continuing with Teachings of the Insentient, Loori writes,
Master Dogen addresses the secrets of the river and of all water: The river is neither strong nor weak, neither wet nor dry, neither moving nor still, neither cold nor hot, neither being nor non-being, neither delusion nor enlightenment. It is none of the dualities. Water is H2O, composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, two odorless and tasteless gases. You bring them together and you get water. But water is not oxygen, and it is not hydrogen. It is not a gas. It is what D.H. Lawrence calls in one of his poems “the third thing.” It is the same was with absolute and relative, with all the dualities. It is not either one or the other; it is always the third thing.
Evan Thompson and Joanna Macy speak of emergent properties – the third thing that arises when things come together. In another career incarnation, I was an archaeological chemist and in rifling through the detritus of civilization, it always amazed me that things remained recognizable despite not being what they originally were. Talk about deep contact with the koan “What was your original face?” The hairpin that could only be known as such because of the shape of the corrosion, the shards of glass that used to cohere as a decanter, the lengths of water-logged beams that once knew itself as a ship – these are all original faces. All transformed intimately by trusting and letting go, becoming just what they are.
This very moment of being –
our original face –
eternally the third thing.
Thank you for practicing,