Friday, September 7, 2012
Back to Sangha
I rang the bell last night to begin the first meditation in our new space and couldn't help but think of all the changes our sangha has gone through since it's humble beginnings over 6 years ago.
I struck the bell and knew I was no closer to knowing what I am doing than I was then, and it made me smile--time has passed, but not knowing is distinctly present, but without as much self consciousness and fear as in the beginning.
Now I know I don't know, and that's just fine. Is this liberation? Is this freedom? What is the difference between not knowing and not caring?
It turns out that there is a world of difference and sometimes I think this is all I have to offer anyone--the sense that time is not to be wasted, to be squandered on the 3 Poisons, and why not just open and give away whatever it is we think is separate, independent and simply ours?
We jumped right in to some great discussion after our sit. My heart was beating like an African Djembe. The new space absorbed, recycled, returned our energy; it was a large group, with many new faces amongst those I have sat across from for many Thursday nights. Some folks yawned, some laughed, some glanced at their watches (oh how much longer?), some hugged one another, while others simply watched, listened, absorbed.
What is this?
Who am I?
What is mindfulness?
We have the persistent belief that a 20 minute silent sit in sangha redeems us in some way, but we are still separating time spent on and off the mat, separating ourselves from the sentient beings beside us, as if there is a this and a that.
But Dogen Zenji said we sit because we are already enlightened beings, and that zazen is the practice of enlightenment.
I may say these words, but realizing this is experiencial and my words are just symbols that are not the experience itself.
So I oftentimes recognize that I am brutish, unskilled and fraudulent, even as I open my mouth to let one word escape...it is never what the moment truly is, and yet, what do we talk about when we talk about awakening?
However, there is also the recognition of the patient self. The diligent and vital self, whose sincere practice permeates the universe like the sound waves emitted by the bell, even as the perception of sound has vanished.
Before the bell is struck, it is already singing.
I am imperfect and embraced none the less in compassion and wisdom, in Amida's Vow.
So I can only hope to instill these qualities in my self and allow them to speak for themselves. This ultimately is all I have to offer, but the offering is Buddha!
The offering is none other than Buddha!
Jijuyu Zammai! "Everything we encounter is the self; receiving our joyous self and fulfilling our function."
in deep gratitude to my teachers, past, present and future