The end of classes seemed like a good place to begin a retreat, in house, at work, in the world--a retreat with the intention of greater mindfulness in each thought, word and deed.
I gave myself a month of retreat time.
What would this mean? How would I proceed? Would my intention become clearer or muddier, grander or smaller? What could I offer Sentient Beings?
Simply stating, "I am in retreat", each morning before I started the day seemed to get things rolling. In my morning meditation, I found myself reciting the Bodhisattva Vow, and the Vow of the Kesa.
Then I told those I work with that I was in retreat, and we laughed--they wanted to go on retreat too, but I think it had more the ring of "vacation", than anything else. I told my Dharma Sister A. and she smiled and shared her plan to do something similar....
I told my husband, who said, "That's great honey. What's for dinner?"
Now, 2 weeks into the retreat, I am surprised by the depth of change, of looking at something from a slightly different angle, and having something open in a new way.
When we change our mind, even in very small ways, we change our reality, we change the universe.
As Dogen Zenji says, when we realize that each moment contains self and other with no duality, we understand the deep interbeing of the universe. We truly understand how "the ten thousand things advance and realize the self" .
Form is no other than emptiness, Emptiness is no other than form.*
As a Shuso, a priest, I've taken a vow to save all Sentient Beings, the Bodhisattva Vow. If I take that vow from the perspective of the ego self, I will forever grow weary and frustrated, unable to help even myself. If however I consider the vow from the perspective of the true self, there is a river of wisdom and compassion that never stops flowing--all I need to do is remind myself that I have always been in the river, that I always will be, just as a fish swims in water and a bird flies in the sky--we are all in the river, we are the river, we just need to realize it.
*from The Heart Sutra