the sound of the rain needs no translation

the sound of the rain needs no translation

28 Dec 2019

"The sound of the rain needs no translation" - Alan Watts quoting a Zen master

This saying, to my mind at least, refers to the non-conceptual nature of reality; the naturalness of experience prior to being transformed into some kind of representation, like words, thoughts, or memories.

Is reality 'spiritual' or 'material', is matter or consciousness primary? Such considerations are concepts about reality which cannot accurately describe reality as it is.

To contemplate such things may seem banal to most people, since they seem to lack any utility or make any difference to our day-to-day lives. Yet if we look beneath the surface of appearances we begin to see and understand how so much of our experience of life is overlaid with our preconceived notions about it. We move so quickly from the experience itself to forming ideas or opinions about it that we don't even notice it is happening.

The way we respond and react to any given experience is largely a consequence of the residue of previous experiences (called saṃskāra's in Sanskrit) we have had, and thus we miss the 'freshness' and naturalness of life; living instead inside an experience of reality which is always lagging behind.

The trick then, if one wishes to rediscover the naturalness of experience, is to find some way to catch the very first moment, prior to the fluctuation of thought, where awareness first touches a given phenomena. In this instant one is able to taste and if it is prolonged, savor, the ever-new shaping of consciousness into any given form of experience.

The Vijñānabhairava Tantra offers many such tricks and contemplation, for reaching such a non-conceptual mode of awareness where one is then able to penetrate to the most essential core of being.