The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Pagoda in the Japanese Gardens, San Francisco, CA

     Hanamatsuri, the Flower Festival, is fast approaching at the Blue Mountain Lotus Society.  Oftentimes held on Shakyamuni's birthday in early April, at BMLS, Hanamatsuri coincides with members of the Sangha  receiving the precepts, the ordination of first year seminary students, and the re-dedication of the senior priest's vows.
     In short, a joyous occasion with friends and family!
     And this is the time I will be ordained as well.  I will receive a Dharma name and will be known as a Shuso, translated loosely as "head disciple".  But from my point of view, it means I have reached the first ledge on the mountain side--I can rest for a moment before continuing my climb.  Here on this ledge, there is just enough room for three: C, M and me.  All year we've referred to ourselves as the "baby priests", but this will no longer be a true description.  On May 17th, we'll sit on Mountain Seat and practice Dharma Jodo, a tradition of questioning from our Senior Priests and the Sangha.
     How does one prepare for Jodo?
     How does one prepare for becoming a Shuso and a priest in the eyes of the Community?
     Has the past year of study been "enough"?  Or maybe just enough to prompt a feeling of acceptance for whatever arises?
     Who, after all, will be ordained?
      This is the question I ask myself over and over again.
     Sometimes I think all of my ego conditioning has led me to this moment--a first born daughter to a couple who were rambunctious, liberal, self-centered, adoring and benignly negligent, I oftentimes filled the role of mother/mediator/problem solver.  Turns out I was pretty good at keeping things from falling apart, well,  sometimes....and the other times?  Things fell apart, and sometimes mended, and certainly, everything changed.  It took  well into adulthood for me to realize that the cycle of destruction, re-construction and change wasn't such a bad thing.  In fact, it was exciting and liberating.  It is the Way of the universe....
     And I've learned to understand that sentient beings can't be saved by the ego self--like Avalokteshvara, one's head might shatter into hundreds of pieces.  And where is ones' Amida Buddha to reconstruct the head, to provide the thousand all embracing arms, the thousand all seeing eyes?  
     All here in the True Self.
     Amida Buddha is the True Self.
     Avalokteshvara is the True Self.
     Tara is the True Self.
     Conditioned self falls away in the face of true compassion and wisdom.
     
     *                             

To the Tribe of the Unborn:

What can I accomplish?
Even though not yet a Buddha
This priest's body can be a raft to carry
Sentient beings to the Other Shore.

--Dogen

Arigatou Gozaimasu, Sensei!

and thank you D for the beautiful photograph....

2 comments:

hmmmm... said...

Oh I wish so MUCH that I could be there as a witness to your ordination. It's been amazing to watch you over the past year, Brooke.

Big hugs,
Karen Anne

BROOKE WILEY said...

Thank you, KA.
It's been wonderful to share it with you!
Love B