Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Buddhism & Writing - Lesson 555

In Buddhism they teach you to treat all dharmas as dreams – which is really just a fancy way of saying whatever you experience in life, it is not solid.  It is fleeting.  

Too often we don’t see it that way.  When will this rain ever stop?  Why can’t I get rid of this pain in my knee? Will I ever be happy? I mean, long continuous everlastingly happiness (is there such a thing)? Who is this person I keep recognizing as myself all these many years?

If life consists of any one consistent ingredient, it is its potential for constant change. Hold onto any one pain or happiness for too long, and it will slip away soon enough. Sometimes long before we’re even willing to let go.  Sometimes long before we even know it’s gone.

Isn’t that like writing? Real writing, good writing is the ability to imbue one single moment, a scene, one single bit of action with the breadth and sweep of the entire story. Sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter, we create these little bon mots (with due respect to poet J Diego Frey) that serve as summary for the entire sweep of the tale being told.  Just as a single chromosome tells of the larger being. Or the way an acorn holds the entire secret of the oak tree it has inside it.

Buddhism tells us all things that originate – hate, love, heroism, guilt, and all the rest of it - originate in our minds. And although these thoughts are vivid, they are not solid. They each hold the potential to flitter away. To change for better or worse, grabbing onto the grand sweep of life.

And that is the promise of good writing.  The promise that nothing is ever stuck, everything changes, and we’ve been invited on the read-along ride to see and anticipate how it all works out.

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