Nobody can sneak up on or out-think their own true understanding, but that doesn't mean it's for lack of trying ... trying to sneak up on an easy peace with one effort or another, one goodness or another, one philosophy or another, one wisdom or another ... tiptoe, tiptoe, tiptoe ... shape-shifting this way and that, weeping heart-felt, salty tears or laying claim to an auspicious discipline. But no one can out-think or outflank it and too often such efforts amount to weaseling out of what we claim to long for.
Some, on hearing they cannot outflank or lay claim to their heart's desire, imagine there must therefore be some god, some bright light, some 'ineffable' something or other. "True understanding," they may say. Or "Buddha nature." Or "emptiness." Or "God." But if everything (to use one bit of terminology) is already god, how in heaven's name could anyone sneak up on it? Wouldn't this be like standing in the bright sunshine, 'trying' to catch your shadow or begging to be saved from drowning before you fell off the ship?
None of this is meant as a lofty or distanced criticism. It's just an observation that may or may not be true.
Yesterday, a college student, Max, came to visit and do a homework assignment that seemed to focus on "Buddhism in daily life" or "engaged Buddhism" or something similar...an interview. Max and John and I sat on the deck in the sunshine, drank coffee, ate some breakfast sweets, and talked. I enjoy such conversations and probably talk too much, but in the end, I am never entirely sure of what I have said. I can't quite figure out what, if anything, my agenda is or was ... but I know, as surely as a kid on the playground knows, that I enjoy myself. It's sort of weird: I enjoy 'helping' and yet can't quite imagine what help I could possibly be...and I am a little afraid of saying that out loud for fear that someone will think it is an 'elevated' or 'better' or 'wiser' point of view.
All I can think of is a graffito I once saw on a construction-site wall:
"Man without God is like a fish without a bicycle."