One of my favourite anecdotes about Trungpa Rinpoche, recounts an exchange with one of his students. Asked by his student: ‘if reality is space, what is space filled with?’ His reply was curt and exact: ‘stories’. Stories have great power. They have the power to awaken and they also the power to dull down, trick and deceive.
In these times we are assailed relentlessly with stories: stories about advertising, family, politics, cooking. The story of angry birds or candy crush, the stories of global warming, Iron Man or gay marriage. The story of another day leading into another night, or another night leading into another day.
When stories deceive us it may be painful or pleasurable, but either way it is like a fog in which we can’t see our own hands. We are tricked by our thought processes which conjure up the narratives around things; the relentless machinations of the world and of our minds. If we look at our minds we might discover there is a faint ache of lostness and of getting further lost, a vague underlying seeking in some way for something.
That seeking is in itself a magical and excellent thing but it is misguided. The Maltese Falcon1 for which we are intuitively searching is not in fact outside of us, but is closer than the film of water across our eyes.
This is our blog Bodhi Cheetah, a pun on the Mahayana Buddhist term bodhichitta. Chitta is a Sanskrit word that means both mind and heart. Bodhi translates as awakened. Therefore bodhi-chitta means literally awakened mind and heart.
In T. H. White’s books the young Arthur is known as The Once and Future King. We are all once and future kings and queens. This awakened mind and heart is our birthright. It is not something apart, but something deep and inherent that is revealed in us in acts of kindness or wisdom like the sun emerging from behind clouds or thick fog.
When stories liberate us it is because they reveal to us in some way our own awakened mind and heart. For a fragile moment there is a gap or relief; a veil rent aside and air makes contact with air. This is ordinary, something that happens everyday. It is a laugh, a tear or an exclamation of pissed-offness.
The internet is a web of stories arising in space. Here – this blog – we are making together a cluster of some stories, poems, films, articles, questions, words, that have real power. It is a good power, the type that can awaken on the spot and fill one’s mind and heart with a wind of inspiration and wisdom. This is a wind desperately needed in these cowardly and speedy times.
1 The Maltese Falcon is a famous detective story in which the plot revolves around a statue that is never found.
Author: Llew Watkins