When there is a grove of trees growing closely together, their branches can get interlaced, so that they seem to support one another. Because they are so close, their individual roots are often very shallow, but the whole thing looks like a stable structure, a sort of table with many legs. But when a big storm comes, it all collapses, because there are no deep roots anywhere. A society or group, says a Zen master, can be like this. The various elements support each other by a system of conventions accepted by all, for no other reason than that they have always been accepted. There may be no deep roots of conviction anywhere, but people act as if they had conviction. After all, the others seem to believe. Such a society can look very stable. It is, however, no longer creative, and it too collapses in a big crisis.
In somewhat the same way, he adds, an individual personality can apparently hold together firmly, but merely because the parts support each other. This lasts only so long as times are good. Unless roots of spiritual conviction have been put down, the whole structure is brittle and hollow and falls to pieces in a storm.
CAT AND DOG
Dr Shastri has remarked that the mind is a cat. There is a teaching, following up this line, which adds that the cat-mind must be turned into a dog. The dog, it says, looks at you and the look says: `How wonderful you are-how I love you! What can I do to serve you?’ But the cat looks at you and the look says: `How wonderful I am-how you love me! What are you going to do to serve me?’ That is what the mind is saying to us.
© Trevor Leggett