The sutra says: “Seeking is all suffering; seeking nothing is joy.”
I love the twists and turns of this third practice. Seek nothing. This is joy. Yet joy is one of the worldly winds that blow up the dust storms! Gotcha!
And yet. And yet…
Much of our path has likely been laid down by seeking and joy in the finding. Now here’s the part we forget: it’s also tamped down by the letting go and the losing.
Broughton footnotes a story about Merit and Darkness who are sisters. They travel together and it is not possible to invite one in without the other. Nor is it possible to drive one away without the other leaving too. While I like this fable, it only addresses the extremes of our clinging and aversion. To stretch the metaphor, we can’t shine the light on one segment of our path without casting others into darkness. Practice requires attention not only to our clinging to the lit path and aversion to the dark beyond but also to the edge where light meets dark. This is liminal ground where transformation occurs; its presence in awareness is constantly negotiated by our open-heartedness.
In my own practice, I try (oh, I try and try) to stay with the transitions between light and dark, earth and air, heaven and hell. The extreme manifestations are no-brainers to meet and resolve. It’s the sliding away and into from one to the other and back again that calls for a deeper commitment. This is where a rigid holding on to what is, what it must become, what it cannot emerge as results in suffering.
This practice of not seeking, wishing for nothing, is a practice of unhooking from a specific outcome, untying the knot that keeps us chained to the shifting winds of fortune. It is in the merging and emerging of lightness and darkness.