blowing away the covering of adventitious dust

From the Bodhidharma Anthology by Jeffrey Broughton, Text 2: Two Entrances

Now, in entering the path there are many roads.  To summarize them, they reduce to two types.  The first is entrance by principle and the second entrance by practice.  Entering by principle means that one awakens to the thesis by means of the teachings, and one deeply believes that all living beings, common and sagely, are identical to the True Nature; that it is merely because of the unreal covering of adventitious dust that the True Nature is not revealed.

Bodhidharma continues, saying that “wall-gazing” or “those who meditate on walls (Red Pine)” come to this realization that we are, none of us, different or separate from each other.  

I’ve read this passage over and over.  It makes sense; it doesn’t make sense.  I know it but I don’t sense into it.  I know it as I sense into it.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve sat with the question of my path.  What is it?  What is its form, its content, its texture, its sound, taste, touch, smell?  I am well-enough versed in the zennish jargon to spin some yarn around this questioning.  And I’m sufficiently high-functioning in my delusional process to believe it – and skillful enough to draw you into a folie à deux.  And then it hit me: it’s all dust.

There’s nothing to resolve.  I’m dust.  You’re dust.  We all fall down!

Earlier last week, I was consulting with a friend whose profession comes in very handy when I need to have tight-lipped conversations about threat assessment and ways to create safety.  (Apparently hiring a hunk of a body-guard is not part of the plan!)  I mentioned that all this talk about threat and protective strategies ran counter to my principles.  As difficult as it may be, I work hard at not launching my strategies from a base of fear.  That path of gut-wrenching anxiety, fear, is well-known and not one I care to travel because it’s viral and an accelerant to an already volatile and unpredictable process.

Besides, I understand what’s happening in this dynamic.  We respond from our suffering and project its cause on the nearest, closest, most intimate target, I explained.  Caught in our delusion, we believe the suffering to be the threat and conflate it with the person we believe is causing that suffering.  It’s handy.  It’s the adventitious dust that grinds into the eyeballs and has us shaking a fist to the Fates and all beings.  If there is any difference between me and the other, it is only in the shape of the dust piles.

And a resolution only needs one of us to know this.

8 thoughts on “blowing away the covering of adventitious dust

  1. Well, I had to look up the meaning of “adventitious” (and found that it usually means: “Not inherent but added extrinsically” but, in biology, it can mean: “Of or belonging to a structure that develops in an unusual place.”). I wonder which version of the meaning applies here???

    If the dust is extrinsic, then is there also inherent (non-extrinsic) dust. Is everything just dust?

    Or, if the dust belongs to a structure that develops in an unusual place . . . aren’t we all developing in an unusual place?

    Well, my mind is obviously full of dust so I’ll go back to sleep now.

    • You know. That was my first attempt at the post – and it made my head hurt. So I went for the superficial. Dust is dust. But seriously (not) – I read it as “added extrinsically” in the sense of adding a layer to something that is in itself obvious reality. One could confound “advantageous” with “adventitious” too… but that makes my head hurt again.

      All delusions develop in an un-usual place anyway. 🙂

  2. Yes! Nothing is separate! We are all delightfully *alive* cosmic dust blowin’ in the wind ~ ~ ~ ~ Reminds me of that song – “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas… And I love that last paragraph – how we respond from our suffering, because of the dust in our eyes, and then realize we’re all dust… Thanks!

  3. yes, just this weekend I was flapping my wings and stirring up clouds of dust! ah, the trickster of feelings was manufacturing great storms of dust, until I went and spent some time grumbling and bumbling about in the garden hoping to dispel the blinding, choking dust. The storm passed through in it’s own good time and as the credits of this little drama rolled by I saw my name writ large as the deluded sorceress of dust, again…

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