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Things as they are

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    • #3735

      Seeing things as they really are?

      I’ve read this phrase in a few different pieces of Buddhist writing recently. What does it really mean?

      When I first read words like this, many years ago, they highlighted the idea of process over static things: Things as they are is the rising and falling of things coming into being and fading away, both in the world and in our hearts and minds.

      More recently I read Dogen’s words in Genjokoan – that firewood is not the same as ash. This emphasises the diversity of things, rather than the continuity of process.

      There is something important about both of these points of view. But neither of them explicitly names the most important thing, although perhaps it is implicit in each of them. What is this? It is that when we see things as they really are we see that everything is loveable just as it is.

      Sometimes we might be gifted this spiritual experience in which we actually do experience love for all things, and sometimes seeing things as they are means trusting that this is true, even when we cannot actually do the loving ourselves. It includes trusting that even in this judgmental and completely human state we are also loveable just as we are.

      A side note: we shouldn’t confuse love for approval. (Perhaps we need more than one word for love?). We can love and still have a clear sense of right and wrong. We probably all have some experience of this in our lives – I love you and you’re being an arse, for example….

      So seeing things as they really are understands the coming and going of all things, and the common processes behind all things. It means respecting the uniqueness of each thing, and understanding the everything is loveable.


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