For decades now, I’ve been reviewing Buddha’s Four Noble Truths while doing my daily yoga headstand. Understanding these looks easy; they are short, simple, and straightforward. Even so, I plumb deeper intuitive meaning from them as the years pass. For example, some years ago the second truth, “The illusion of self originates and manifests itself in a cleaving to things” finally sank in — emotionally! While I’ve always understood this intellectually, I never felt it in my bones. All at once I viscerally understood — knew — that everything I held to be important in life was propping up my “illusion of self” – ego. It appears that there is understanding, and then there is genuine understanding.
I’ve always felt that Buddha’s Four Noble Truths and the core teachings of all religions offered enough life guidance to chew on. Having actions speak louder than words is the challenge of a lifetime. Yet millions of words are written and spoken on core teachings. I see this as symptomatic of our lack of visceral understanding — intuitive knowing. Because when we can’t walk the walk, we talk the talk even more. I suppose this is true of most everything spoken or written. We are attempting to convince and remind ourselves. I know I am!
Does this mean my writing is symptomatic of my lack of visceral understanding? Perhaps, for the odd thing is that I don’t know that I lack visceral understanding until I experience visceral understanding. Such epiphanies illuminate what I only think I know. It could all be a house of mirrors, one revelation replacing another until my brain drops dead. That fits the biological model of the hunter-gatherer: nature drives me to keep looking for something new to chew on. What’s more, gossiping about recent revelations is an essential and natural way for humans to interact socially, and that includes me. Ah… but Knowing doesn’t speak; speaking doesn’t know #56. Now that’s humbling.
I must add that seeing symptoms doesn’t actually illuminate true causes. Seeing matters as simply symptomatic of something deeper tells us that there is more here than meets the eye… and perhaps the visceral realm as well.