Thursday, February 21, 2008
The New Grey Robe
Last night, I wore my new grey robe for the first time during a liturgy at the House of Meditation. With all the pleats crisply pressed, the waist tie to the left and then to the right, the wide, billowing sleeves and flat, crossed collar, I felt transformed. (And pretty damn spiffy too).
I couldn't have predicted feeling so different, but really, that's the point isn't it? In our practice, we step outside of our ordinary awareness and concerns. We transcend what we think we know, what we cling to, what we harbor as our very own "realtiy". It's no one else's reality, just our own, and it's real! Right?
During the liturgy, we chanted the nembutsu for several extended minutes, while members of the sangha offered incense. The smoke from the incense was intensely powerful and wafted above the alter in clouds. Bowing, chanting, listening, breathing, focusing on Sensei's shoe, and then on nothing: all the senses in the groove.
Later, walking mindfully outdoors to offer incense to Jizo and ring the bell, I felt myself tripping. The cord belt of my robe had come completely un-knotted, and was practically wrapped around my feet. I quickly tied it again and continued walking. But now my mind had something to worry over....
How long had the long cord been trailing? Had the sangha noticed my "tail"? No matter where we go, we're still dragging stuff behind us!
At first I thought, "Man, I must look like a little grey mouse! This is so typical."
I was beginning to get a little down about it, when another thought rose to the surface.
Maybe the power of my chanting loosened the knots! All that communal sound, the controlled breath, the Nembutsu itself had loosened everything up.
And if that was the case, who else's knots were untied? Who else felt that familiar negative voice give way to the compassion and wisdom of the True Self?
Namu Amida Butsu!