Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Mirror

Snow has covered all but the face of the Buddha in the front of the Temple.  The year is slowly fading away, and I find myself reflecting on all the events, sorrowful, shocking, disappointing, joyful, satisfying and amazing, that have filled this time.

Two topics in particular have lingered in my heart these past weeks -- the sudden horror of the Newtown shootings, and the ongoing revelation of ethical lapses by spiritual teachers.  I have been sitting and wondering for weeks about what to write about these things.  They appear to be reflections of the ordinary evil that lies in all our hearts, made real in the world through narrowly-viewed actions.  The death of children?  It happens every day.  Religious leaders as sexual predators?  It's an old story.

The Sufi poet Rumi, in a translation by Coleman Barks, says, "Your grief for what you've lost lifts a mirror up to where you're bravely working.  Expecting the worst, you look, and here's the loving face you've been longing to see."  

To clearly face the arising of pain from the actions of others provides an opportunity to look deeply, as if in a mirror, at my own heart, and all of the evil I am capable of -- subtle and overt -- through my unskillful actions.  To look at the suffering of the world as it arises within me is not easy, but feels like the necessary step that precedes compassionate, wise action.  Take the spacious view, see others as yourself, and then go out and do what needs to be done.  Vote, ban bullets and weapons, create ethical guidelines and live by them -- cradle the anger and grief and fear in loving arms, and then do something.  

And see that longed-for face, surrounded by snow -- a mirror for the deepest knowing.  Make a vow to heal the world, action by action, moment by moment.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy New Life

Here is a quote sent to me from my dear student and friend, Diane Fitzgerald, which she received a couple of years ago  from my dear husband and fellow teacher David Rynick.  it's from Ox and Window by the 17th century Zen master Hakuin Ekaku:

Bodnant Garden, North Wales
This year, I am determined to be more unproductive.  My goal is to do less and less – to move slower and slower until everything stops.  I and the whole world will come to a sweet and silent stillness.  And in this stillness, a great shout of joy will arise.  We will all be free – free from the advice of ancient ages, free from the whining voices, free from the incessant objections of the responsible ones.

In this new world, it will be abundantly clear that the bare branches of the winter trees are our teachers.  In their daily dance of moving here and there, we will see once again the true meaning of our life.  In the wind song of their being, we will hear God’s unmistakable voice.  We will follow what appears before us – what had once been difficult will now unfold with ease.