The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!’
~ Alexander Pope, Eloisa to Abelard (for the full poem see http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174158)
I love the lines of this poem ~ the world forgetting, eternal sunshine, the spotless mind ~ all aspirational goals for we who seek enlightenment. However, as great as those notions sound, they are really only empty ideas of perfection. True realization knows that this spotted mind is the only mind. That the world of eternal darkness and endless un-forgetting is one of the Buddha’s dwelliing places.
Pope’s poem refers to a famous and tragic love story from 12th century Paris. Abelard, a prominent philosopher, took as his student the young and brilliant Heloise. The two fell in lust and love; she had his illicit child and they secretly married. Vengeful, her uncle sent thugs to castrate Abelard. Forever altered, the lovers entered religious orders, lost contact for many years, but later began a touching correspondence that lasted for the rest of their lives. The poet Pope is suggesting that Eloise sought a clean spirit through forgetting. That is not true: her letters showed she never wanted to forget, as painful as the loss might be.
The true mind is active and vast, but not so far away. And there are other dwelling places of the Buddha. This afternoon I served as a race timer at my daughter’s high school sectional swim meet. The teenagers were beautiful all, some slim, others chunky; some dark, some fair. They dove into and kicked and splashed through my spotless mind as the bright sun showed itself through the broken clouds. I will not soon forget.
‘This wrong and that wrong ~ it is important not to take them away.
Then the waves are calm in the four seas, the hundred rivers return to the ocean tide.’
Hsueh Tou’s Verse, Case 31, The Blue Cliff Record