Ways of Being-In-The-World

The Buddha teaches about three ways of being-in-the-world (similes of being). When do you most closely resemble a blockhead, splithead, and fountain-head?

BLOCKHEADS: Like letters carved in rock

Blockheads are rigid in thought and action, accepting only their way, unable to see beyond their impenetrable blocked ego. Blockheads live a hard life on the wrong side of the metaphorical door, shutting them out of privilege, opportunity, awareness, softening and feeling. They freeze feelings and turn ideas into stone with their dogmatic ideals that require absolute obedience. Their one-sided ways, the Buddha says, are like letters carved in rock, for they cannot see beyond the blocked entrance. They cannot move beyond their blocked ego so when they act, they act out blindly and cruelly.

These characters live among us today in the form of White supremacists, political terrorists, rapists, gay bashers, hate mongers, and at times: me and you. How do we unfreeze our blockheaded habits and drill holes of light into our stubborn consciousness? These are not heady acts: too many of us live inside our heads, far too often. How might we see and hear a trickling of water through the rock of our unexamined and habituated beliefs?

SPLITHEADS: Like letters written in sand

Splitheads do not open the metaphorical door to more awakened paths, however, they have glimpses into alternative sides of themselves. While not impenetrable, they allow “the social self” to take the place of “the authentic self” until the difference between the two is blurred. Splitheads are actors playing a part in a script written by socially-constructed roles and habits, living according to others’ expectations, forgetting who they are, sleepwalking through life, and not looking for cracks of awareness in the rock.

FOUNTAINHEADS: Like letters written in running water

Fountainheads are neither this nor that, but coming and going, like Bakhtin’s mode of linguistic homelessness (where no one ideal is grasped). Fountainheads do not retain their passing thoughts and their minds are always clear: the fluid self, freely moving, living energy, with mental alertness, inner strength, and mindfulness.

References:
The Teaching of Buddha (Tokyo: Kosaido Printing, 1990)