Not too long ago I received an email from the monk at my temple. The body of the email said something like please take a moment to look at the attached document and consider what it means to you. The attachment was entitled Examining the Self. (Or something very similar to that. My memory is sieve-like.) Well, I opened the document and, voila: a blank page. After half a second, I thought aha! how clever, a blank page. No taste, no touch, no smell, no objects of mind*. A blank page, very funny, what a great way to communicate letting go of damaging self-concepts. I emailed my teacher right away, saying how much I enjoyed his clever message, how funny I thought it.
A few hours later I received another email from Sunim. He apologized that his original attachment didn’t work, and would I please take the time to try it again. It was a short video about the formation of self. Interesting, but I still preferred the blank page. I have never asked him if I was the only person to misinterpret the failed message. Um, I hope not.
For the past several days I have been mesmerized by news from Egypt. As I pore over photos and articles in an attempt to fully understand what is going on, it has started to seem very important, momentous. I feel that great changes are afoot. Oddly, I have an impulse to go there. I want to witness this moment in history firsthand. I know this is bizarre, and can’t help but wonder what it means about me. This is one blank page not easily filled in.
After high school, a dear friend went through something similar. She was convinced that she should leave school and go to Alaska to help clean up after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Cindy was having dreams about the event and the animals covered in oil. She was truly distraught and felt compelled to be there. I definitely don’t feel that kind of urgency or despair, only that I’m missing out on something exciting. Weird, right?
*from the Heart Sutra