The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

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

Friday, January 31, 2014

Last night we finally sat meditation and shared a liturgy together as a sangha in the new zendo, an interfaith sanctuary in Allison Hall here on Dickinson College Campus.
Our first night was to be the week before, but with a malfunctioning heating system and temperatures down to 18 degrees in the building, it just wasn't going to happen.  

Though it did provide renewed wonder and gratitude for all my sisters and brothers who once practiced under such conditions, and still do in some parts of the world!  Warmth, electricity, cushions, chairs, carpet…we've got it easy!

We opened with a Kito for the benefit of all who seek sanctuary in the new space, be they Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Jewish;  the room will be utilized by at least four faith traditions this Spring.  As I offered incense to the 4 directions and through both thresholds, I was filled with such energy and love.  Just love.  My heart was sounding like a bell and my hands shook. 

Once I approached the Butsudan, it seemed as if I stood there motionless for a long time, but it was probably only a few seconds, before I lit incense once again, chanting the Nembutsu, hoping my offering would be heard by Amida, by Kanzeon, by my teachers, dharma sisters and brothers, my family, and all those who have come before me and left this beautiful path for us.
Shakyamuni Buddha winked at me just before I turned to bow to the sangha, and then I knew I was fine!

The Dharma talk was about Unsui, a Zen concept that, literally translated, means "cloud, water".  I wanted to somehow relate how after my preliminary ordination as Shuso, my teacher had casually said, "Now you are Unsui, a cloud, at home everywhere in the universe."  In his usual style, he had then sauntered away with a little smile on his face.
Oh, Ok, I thought, no problem.

Last night I wanted to convey in words, how this statement, this suggestion, this idea, had deeply and ineffably effected me through the months and years of my priesthood.  In fact, it became my koan, and it's something I'm still working on.
Last night I invited others to work on this koan as well.  I invited them to consider the possibility that they are all Unsui, ordination not necessary! but just with an open heart, an open awareness, the Bodhisattva vow beneath the tongue and curiosity in the heart-mind.

What does it mean to be home?  What does it mean to converge like a cloud, like water, around the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha?  How do we navigate in a fast-paced, vibrant, disturbing culture as clouds moving effortlessly through the open sky?  Moving as fluidly as water in a stream, around obstacles and over dams, moving without thought, infused with the Tao, infused with Bankei's Unborn nature and the Pure Land right here, right here.

What does it mean to be home?

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