Sunday, August 21, 2011
The Zen of Boats (again)
Buddhist practice often uses the image of a rainbow to illustrate both the illusory nature of all things and to demonstrate their impermanence. Now I'm not a Buddhist (nor am I a non-Buddhist) but I suppose this image is used because all of us, at one time, have chased a rainbow only to discover that its end can never be reached, that there is no end. This brings me right back to boat work. Although our lists have gotten considerably shorter over the years, that proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow continues to, at times, lure our minds and cause all kinds of conflict. What exactly am I talking about?
I have a confession to make. I'm not perfect. Sometimes I push and push and push to get a project done because I think that when it is finished I will be happy. I fall into the 'if only' mentality, you know... 'if only we get the haul out over with', or 'if only we got the solar panels installed', or 'if only we had one boat', or a million other 'if onlies' that sneak into my consciousness when I'm too busy to pay attention to the important things like my breath or they way Chopper runs down the dock balancing on only three legs.
And this is where the boats have truly been my guru. It is said that a guru is like a spotless mirror where we can see both the beauty and the ugliness of our inner life. Our weaknesses, virtues, doubts and strengths are revealed thru both joyful and painful experiences. (Excerpt taken from "The Journey Home" by Radhanath Swami) This is how the boats feel to me. In their steady presence the face of my weaknesses, joys, and doubts is revealed.
Poets, dreamers, romantics and seekers of all types go out to sea to experience the solitude of the ocean and the oneness with Life. Sailing, and the sea is used in many spiritual metaphors. We have yet to go to sea, but if these boats can teach us such lessons tied to the dock, I can only imagine what awaits us out there in the deep.