The Paradox of Reality [Audio]

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Eugene Cash talks about the Paradox of Reality. Referencing the Buddhist quote: "Things are not what they seem. Nor are they otherwise."

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The Paradox of Reality, by Eugene Cash:

I always find it interesting how the room changes during the retreat and during the talk, because there’s often a little gaps that starts to happen, because people wants to sit in chairs, which makes total sense, bgut it’s just a little stadium like when there’s so many people back there. That I’ve been remembering in our, because we lost electricity a little bit, I’ve been remembering different times when we’ve had emergencies, things have changed here. And we really, really one of my favorite times was when we really lost electricity and I had to give a Dharma talk. You know, I’m not, I mean, I can raise my voice, but I’m not so big on it. And so everybody moved really close. That was a whole different field to be together in that way. So, I want you to all move now.

And I’m also ___ loved that electricity works, and I can speak relatively and normally and you can hear me for better or for worse. Here, I’ll start with one of my favorite Buddha’s quote. This is from ___ Sutra. “Things are not what they seem. Things are not what they seem. Nor are they otherwise.” And I like that quote, because it’s a very, for me, a very compelling description of reality. Things are not what they seem. Nor are they otherwise. And I like it, because it’s not, uhm, it doesn’t make sense in the usual way we think about things, but it has a ring to it, that we all understand even if we don’t understand it intellectually somewhere, we know, all that’s true. And so, I appreciate the paradox that’s inherent in that teaching.

And I find a paradox to be a very valuable component of the Dharma, and what we’re doing here, and of  what it means to wake up a little bit, or to begin to see who and what we are, or the way things are. And the practice we’ve been exploring this week, the ___ teachings, the teachings are generally called mindfulness. ___ be translated equally well as awareness. The practice of awareness. The practice that we’re doing, and we’re teaching, and we’re exploring, and we’re learning, and we’re investigating, and we’re learning about, and we’re going, and we’re not getting—all at the same time.

And I like the ___, because it’s so simple, right? Like really, it’s just giving you one basic instruction, right? Pay attention. Be aware of what’s actually happening right now. That’s very simple, and I love that it’s simple, because I like simplicity, personally, and I also appreciate the simplicity, because it’s difficult, because simplicity itself is not easy. We’re oriented in a more complex world and idea of the world, and idea of who and what we are, and what reality, and so that orientation towards the simplicity of reality is again a little contradictory or paradoxical.

And the ___’s so beautiful—this teaching of awareness, and paying attention to the experiential moment and being guided into experiential reality more and more, and to use my word—to be more intimate with experiential reality, to keep coming closer to it, to keep being curious not so much in an intellectual way, necessarily, although the intellectual way can totally function, but to be intimate in an experiential way, in a felt, sense way, in a direct knowing way, in a way that doesn’t just bypass our intelligence, but includes all the levels of intelligence that’s sitting here, body, heart, mind, and beyond the usual idea of body, heart, mind.

And the ___ is paradoxical in a certain way, because it’s so simple and so doable, and it’s not doable. We can’t do it. So that’s the beautiful part of the paradox, because it pushes us beyond what we know. It starts to expand us, let’s take away—push. That’s too aggressive for Buddha sometimes. It expands us, or opens us beyond what we know about ourselves, and reality ourselves, and so we can do it, and we can’t do it. And there, in that supposed tension or paradox, reality starts to flower or reveal itself, both known and unknown.

And so, another, I’m going to give you some of my favorite Buddha’s quotes today. So here’s another one, because I believe true practice allows us, or supports us, or reveals the paradox of the Dharma itself, the Dharma that’s sitting in each sit right here. Not the Dharma that you know, written in all the text, and also, the Dharma that’s in all the text, and the paradox of that. But really, the paradox that’s sitting right here that’s breathing, thinking, feeling, sensing, liking, not liking, wondering, thinking I’ve got it, thinking shit I don’t have it at all, and that living reality starting to be known and revealing the Dharma here. And so, from one of my favorite, I’m going to ask for your something. I’m going to ask you forgive, because what happens when I start teaching a lot is that I can’t remember, did I say this in an interview with someone? Or did I say this in this small, little group with it? Did I say this last week, ___ inside? So, if I’m repeating myself, you can either say be quiet, no you can’t do that. But you can say, you know, you can just know that it’s, because the Dharma’s the doing the talk, right? I mean, I’m doing part of it, but I’m not doing part of it, but I’m not doing all of that, because I can’t so please indulge me that way. So it’s, if I can’t remember if I said anything about ___ here. Did I say anything? I did. Okay. Good. Because I love ___ very much and he’s one of my teachers totally and I appreciate his humanity, and so that is so full and so beautiful and it’s not separate from his deep understanding of reality and the Dharma. And he said, the Buddha is your mind.

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About the author 

Sean Fargo

Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at

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