Sermon for September 23, 2018
The lives we craft are the illusions that keep us from truth. This is why we swat away the fly. This is why God proclaims his strength is perfected in our weakness, and not in the supposed greatness of the lives we build. We spend entire lifetimes swatting away the flies, never realizing they are messengers of truth.
The presenter in the koan is symbolic of us in our lives. He picks the right place to film, the right camera, the perfect time of day. A message is crafted, the voice and tone of speech are honed to a specific style, and his clothes reflect an appropriate style for the setting and message.
We, in our lives, are constantly building whatever it is we’ve decided we want our lives to look and feel like. What’s our purpose, where do we want to live, what clothes express who I am? We too are crafting a presentation that, we believe, has something to do with the truth.
Having skillfully prepared this entire experience, the presenter begins. The viewer is drawn in by all the things that have been carefully thought out to skillfully present an explanation of spiritual truths. And then, the buzzing of the fly.
In an instant, the fly shows us that this is all a simple creation, a reality of our own making, that can be created, and then cut through, with a simple buzz. The scene, the audio, and the speaker were all upstaged in the most simple way. All that planning was gone in a moment.
The fly, if we can let it do its work, will give us a deep laugh at ourselves when the truth is revealed
In our lives, it is no different. There are many things that act as a fly for us, death being the ultimate. No matter how far we go to create the illusion of our own making, death ultimately cuts right through the whole thing. Each person’s moment if death is the same, no matter the condition, the presentation, they built up in life.
At first this may sound depressing, hopeless even. If we sit with it enough, it is the doorway to being freed from all the anxiety, seeking, and suffering of a life we believe needs our attention.
The only thing keeping us from truth, from salvation, from being freed from the idea that our situation is hopeless, is the idea that we need to do something, think something, find something other than the simplicity of just being.
As soon as you begin to seek, or choose not to seek, you are lost. As soon as the presenter began his creation, it was only his creation that would be communicated. It was only something totally natural and spontaneous, the fly, that could then cut through the illusion. We can feel this in our own lives when, even with our best efforts to control things, the spontaneous and uncontrollable aspects of life always cut through. We believe these are
annoyances, like the fly, and that we have to try harder to prevent them, but they are actually messengers of truth for us.
In that same way, when we are told that God’s strength is perfected in our weakness, we can have strong resistance, and confusion. If we fall into a trap by either seeking, or choosing not to seek, creating, or trying not to create, then what are we to do? What is the third option? This can only be answered in REAL weakness, not in a pretending to give up, or in a different choice you believe is going to get you something. It is an experience of total surrender that is not a choice. In that moment, in true weakness, something beyond your concept of your ‘self‘ will come through- call it grace, truth, whatever you like.
How did Adam and Eve lose a perfect existence, totally free from suffering? They became self aware. They became a figment of their own creation, rather than God’s creation. Unknowingly, the presenter, in the koan, continued this mistake. Unknowingly, in our own lives, we also continue this mistake. It is this idea of ourselves that weakness cuts through. It is this constant creating that the fly cut through.
This sermon, the koan, themselves are only part of the illusion we create for ourselves. They are to be used to see the folly of what we are seeking and then thrown away. Once they have done their job, they are to be discarded.
Truth, salvation, is as simple as a buzzing fly. If we see it as an interruption of something, we are still lost. If we simply see a fly, there is nothing more to be done.