Relating with the present moment is difficult and painful in many cases. Although it is straightforward, a straight road, it is quite a painful one. It is like the bardo, or after death, experiences mentioned in The Tibetan Book of the Dead. You have a brilliant light coming at you with the image of a certain tathagata, or buddha, peering at you from within it. And on the side there is a less brilliant, less irritating light. The light from the side is much more beautiful because it is less glaring, only a reflection of the tathagata. So there are two choices. Should we go into the irritating one or should we just turn off on one of the sidetracks? This symbolism from The Tibetan Book of the Dead is very profound for our actual, everyday life situation. Perhaps the after-death experience just typifies the kind of situation in which choices are most enlightening or stimulating and most immediate. In our ordinary life situation, we have to open ourselves and investigate and then make a commitment. Without choice, there would be no leap and no moment of letting go at all. Because of choice, therefore, there is a moment of leap and letting go happens. So it seems that it is not particularly comforting and blissful and easy. On the other hand, it could be inspiring.
From “Auspicious Coincidence,” in Glimpses of Abhidharma, pages 101 to 102. Published by Shambhala Publications.