The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

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

Friday, August 3, 2012

"All those happy in the world are so because of their desire for the happiness of others."


--Shantideva



August is a month of two full moons, a Blue Moon month.


The full moon of August 1st is still being felt here on the Connecticut coast, with a generous high tide and a low tide that reveals the mud of all things.
The marshes flush with all sorts of delectable small creatures, followed by wading bird: herons, egrets and rails, while the ocean creeps higher up the beach, bringing terns, sandpipers and plovers to sprint after lunch, before the next wave clears the table.
It's a one-day banquet, and everyone takes advantage of Earth and Moon's big breath.


At the beach, I'm the only one there at high tide, and I can feel days of low level stress leave my shoulders and neck. After swimming, I pull my beach towel down to the water line so that I can lay with my feet in the water.  The beach towel is one I remember from when we were teenagers--how could it have lasted this long?  I feel as if stretched out on a hand towel.
No matter, even on a hand towel the beach is the best spa on earth.


Meanwhile, 45 miles south down the coast, cities are hot and grimy, and if folks step out of their apartments, they bake on the asphalt.  After hours, it's simply not safe to stray far from your front steps.
City dwellers have the very same ocean I dip my feet into, but it is filthy and no one can safely swim amidst the urban debris and bilge sewer.
Here the ocean is just another highway, like I 95, a byway for cargo ships and tankers, for our needs and wants.  Some of us are fortunate enough to have those needs and wants satisfied without much cost, while others struggle mightily for the basics.
A gratitude practice is not difficult to discover when looking deeply.


Perhaps there is a ship load of Ikea products in the harbor, to supply the mega-store just on the other side of I 95.  And the oil tanker being guided into the harbor by a sturdy tugboat?  There's a chance some that fuel will go to warm my mother's house this winter, and though I am 6 hours away from her, I will rest easier knowing her house is not cold.  Knowing she is at least warm for the winter, those around me benefit from a little less of that low level stress that accumulates until I can get back into the ocean, where it simply washes away.


So this shore sustains me as well, and the flooding marshes where just the tips of the brilliant green sea grasses shimmer in the sunlight and the channel banks are erased, where the earth world and the water world dissolve obvious form and what I think I know, where the long, thin legs of the egret are the same color, shape and diameter of the reeds so that the fish she stalks are not afraid, this is where Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva teaches Shariputra and all the universe the Heart Sutra every day.
And if you think the Prajna Paramita mantra is not heard and subtly answered by the little boy playing video games all day, who does not have the luxury of dipping his feet into the pristine ocean, dip your own feet into the water for him and wish for him this same liberation.



2 comments:

karen anne said...

I don't know how you do it: "Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva teaches Shariputra"...

My world feels sadly monosyllabic...

Love,
ka

Brookie said...

hahaha whats wrong with you, don't you know Sandscrit?!?
There is a story of an illiterate man who was reciting one of the Buddha's Sutras one day, walking behind his water buffalo. A learned monk passed his field and heard the farmer, and said, Old Man, you're reciting it all wrong. You'll never become enlightened that way!"
And when the farmer turned to smile, the Monk realized he was already enlightened.
He merely nodded and continued his travels, humbled.
Because the farmer's intension was pure and his practice intended for all sentient beings, even his incorrect recitation was the gateway to awakening.
So chant away, my dear!