In week one of his Tricycle Retreat, “Selfless Practice,” Rodney Smith asks us to consider the mysteries of the worlds on both sides of our human dimension. If we explore the vastness of the universe we find billions of galaxies holding billions of stars. On the other end of the spectrum, at the quantum level, we find particles that can be in two places at once. And yet, despite these wonders that we find to our right and to our left, Smith observes that we tend to take the world in front of us at face value. We believe that we inhabit a solid dimension, and the cornerstone of this construction is this idea of “self” that we cling to.

Smith asks us to take a hard look at this assumption.  

We need to explore this certainty that we hold ourselves to be—and the world in this dimension—because one of the very elevating components and qualities of mind is this sense of being in touch with something new, something mysterious and refreshing. And this dimension—as we hold it to be just what we have known it to be, and [as we hold] ourselves to be just what we know ourselves to be—we rob it. We deprive it of that freshness and of that newness that our hearts long for.

So it’s important for us to see whether this certainty is true or not. Is this perception of reality—of me here and everything else external to me—true and valid? If it is, fine, let’s get on with it. But if it’s not true, then extraordinary possibilities of interconnectedness—of union and possible solutions to problems that this old paradigm cannot allow—[are allowed by] the new paradigm.

What do you think? Is selflessness true? There’s a lively discussion about these ideas already taking place over here. To participate in this retreat you must be a Member of the Tricycle Community.

Also, when you become a Tricycle Community Member, you can join a Special Community Discussion with Robert Chodo Campbell and Koshin Paley Ellison, the founders and co-executive directors of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care.

Image: from the Flickr photostream of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

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