The three characteristics are often used to describe truths of reality or experience.
They are useful tools for opening doors for people in their experience, but they can cause problems when they are embraced as concrete truths.
Depending on the context, their opposites can be just as meaningful or useful:
- everything is impermanent// everything has a permanent essence
- nothing is self// everything is self
- everything is dissatisfactory// everything is a perfect expression of buddha nature
The point isn’t that these things are true but that there is some truth in them and that they are tools that point to areas where we can open our minds to new ways of understanding the world. They are like a formula for a certain type of awakening or opening.
If you can open your mind to the extreme aspects of experience, embrace what’s there and then return to your centre, you bring back what feels meaningful and true and are more able to be with the full experience of reality.
You have opened to being with what is there.
This rule of opposites also applies to my favourite characteristic:
- life is really fucking weird// life is super mundane and simple
Opening and Connecting
Delusion and ignorance comes from denying and ignoring parts of experience because we are afraid of them or unable to entertain the idea that they might be true. By opening to them safely we increase the parts of reality that we can see.
The same is true of every aspect of experience – our emotions, perceptions, lightness, darkness, energy, physicality, interconnectedness, deeply personal experience etc.
It’s all valid and there are no truths that can be landed on – we can only use concepts and ideas as platforms for exploring our experience.
If you think you have found a Universal truth in experience see if you can also embrace the opposite of it. This is not to talk yourself out of it or to undermine the original idea, but to enrich it with the truth that can be found in both aspects of it.
The more of a fixed idea you have that something is undeniably true or false, the richer the process of embracing the opposite will be for you.
In order for this process to work, it has to be held with a deep sense of forgiveness. In order to embody these aspects of our beings fully, we have to embrace ideas fully. This means having gotten things ‘wrong’ in the past. If we can give ourselves and each other space to do this as part of the process of exploring our experience, then we are much more likely to able to make space for what is happening for us in this moment.
Rather than replacing the old ideas with news fixed ideas about what that said about us, we can forgive ourselves for being humans and embrace our roles as animals that are here to explore, experiment and learn along the way.
Once you have let go of the idea that truth can be found in fixed ideas and perceptions you can land in what feels true and important to you in your heart-mind-body-soul in this moment.
And it is this sense of forgiveness towards our past selves and curiosity towards our reality that will open up the way in which we can grow and expand.