Lo Zu was sitting upon a meandering Oak log, as he so often likes to, silently gazing at the beauty all around him. His right hand — of course — held his splendid, sinuous walking cane. Three young students came by — in the hope of again gleaning some insights of wisdom from him — and they began asking questions. One of the questions, from one of the students, was, “What is the nature of the self?”
Lo Zu smiled caringly at them and said, “See those majestic mountains in the distance? Each one has a name. Each one seems different and separate from the others.” Just then a little toad hopped by, and Lo Zu remarked, “Then too, the warts upon this beautiful, little toad… each one seems separate and distinct from the others; the warts do not have names — as the mountains do — but nevertheless, they are quite similar.” “Kind of like those bird eggs that you told us about once, right?” remarked one of the students. “Exactly!” said Lo Zu.
“What are you getting at?” one of the inquisitive students fondly asked. Lo Zu then said, “The self, which each one of us allegedly has, is like one of those mountains or like one of those warts. However, the mountains are — in reality — all connected and unified by the ground beneath that supports them. Each wart, too, is part of the whole toad. We, as humans, however, get lost in the separateness, the isolation, and do not see the whole (which is the real truth and true reality). We were miseducated, and we accept the limited all too easily and mindlessly; one is conditioned to look at oneself as an isolated, separate mountain, or as a separate wart. We are not just one mountain; we are the whole range (and then some). We are not just one, isolated wart; we are the whole toad (and then some). Thought/thinking is usually limited and isolating. Transcending the habit of superficial thought/thinking may enable truth and unadulterated, holistic beauty to be seen. With (or ‘as’) such beauty, real compassion flowers.”
“Yes,” said one of the students, “but I see that I am separate from my own separate thoughts and I see that I control the thoughts and the thinking process.” Lo Zu answered, “We — over many generations and from early (in life) input from so-called others — have been taught that the ‘I’ is the boss and is the powerful controller of thoughts. But, in reality, it may be that thought itself has projected this image of ‘I’; in other words, the ‘I’ itself may be the product of thought/thinking and may erroneously be imagined as ‘being in charge.’ The more thought attributes power and control to this imaginary ‘controller,’ the more the mind becomes conditioned to take it for granted and accept its supposed controlling power (as reality). More and more of these associative occurrences further condition the mind. However, the alleged separateness and the alleged power of control of this imagined ‘I’ may not be truly grounded in reality. The wise mind that sagaciously sees this does not fall into disorder or disarray but, rather, functions beautifully in (and ‘as’) a most holistic, deep, and profound order (beyond mere ordinary control). Hopefully, the beauty of it can be seen.”
The students graciously thanked Lo Zu and went on their way… pondering deeply.