Sovereignty & Silence

“being sovereign wherever you are and using that place as your seat of awakening.” – Master Linji

Tricycle has recently posted an excerpt from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Nothing to Do, Nowhere to Go (2007). I haven’t read the book itself but after this I would like to. Here’s something that really stood out for me:

Insight can’t be found in sutras, commentaries, verbal expression, or —isms. Liberation and awakened understanding can’t be found by devoting ourselves to the study of the Buddhist scriptures. This is like trying to find fresh water in dry bones. Returning to the present moment, using our clear mind which exists right here and now, we can be in touch with liberation and enlightenment, as well as with the Buddha and the patriarchs as living realities right in this moment. The person who has nothing to do is sovereign unto herself. She doesn’t need to put on airs or leave any trace behind. The true person is an active participant, engaged in her environment while remaining unoppressed by it. Although all phenomena are going through the various appearances of birth, abiding, changing, and dying, the true person doesn’t become a victim of sadness, happiness, love, or hate. She lives in awareness as an ordinary person, whether standing, walking, lying down, or sitting. She doesn’t act a part, even the part of a great Zen master. This is what Master Linji means by “being sovereign wherever you are and using that place as your seat of awakening.”

One of my favorite teachings has always been, “let go,” or as the article puts it, “Simply stop.” Release the burden of trying to control. You do not need to (nor can you take hold of the divine).

This kind of feeling not only accompanies some spiritual experiences (ecstatic and blissful release of action, abiding and just being), to deeper teachings espoused in the Tao te Thing. Thich Nhat Hanh is a wonderful living embodiment of the teaching: action and non action as one. He is very much engaged in the world, yet he is not “of it.” Liberated even though he still walks step by step. No matter where we are, the mystery dwells. Leave everything at the door and step into the silent space; there is your sovereignty.

Ending with a poem:

The world is like a spiral that dances

around the mystery of its own center.

Returning again and again to No-thing

I die here as man and return elsewhere as Star,

yet I have never really been born or ever really died.

This is the miracle of the world,

which is ever new and dancing

and ever still in abiding.

The two are one, and together

they tell the story of the Whole.


2 thoughts on “Sovereignty & Silence

  1. Hi John! I don’t usually post many of my poems. Most of them are saved on my computer. Trying to get into the habit of sharing them more though! You might also check out my tumblr account.

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