Imagine a line of fifty animals, all of which you recognise by name. Now picture those fifty animals again and look at them before or beyond the labels of goat, sheep, camel, pig, cow, monkey, snake, bird, duck, elephant, goose, giraffe and the rest. It’s hard visualizing the before; the time when man had not stuck a label, name or word as a definition, yet that place exists before the attachment. Easier to see it, when you contemplate the animals and insects being newly discovered in the Rainforests – suddenly a name or label gets added. Names of course help identification and simplicity, yet once a label exists, the tendency is to think you “know” and look no further.
Stereotypes present a classic example of labelling; one such is the Zen Master. Initial judgment and analysis may indicate a stern and cold demeanour. Is he a statue? Is he alive and breathing? What is he thinking? Where is he looking and why? How come his dog looks like him – or is it the opposite? Is it an image? Is he acting a “role”? Who does he think he is – Yoda? Endless questions? Endless answers?
After the mind, beyond the thoughts, when the rattling cogs of brain in full speed assessment die down – what really exists? Often simplicity, silence, stillness, poise, peace – often wisdom, often profound, calm, quiet and serene. More words? More labels? More “definition”? Or less words and thoughts?
The takeaway contemplation is: “What exists before and beyond thought?” Not only in the Zen Master example, in all and everything that we come into contact with.
“What exists before and beyond thought?”