The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Vernal Equinox 2015

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.


The first day of Spring has come and gone.  Here, the chill and dampness still linger.  When I took this photograph, we were having a bit of a blizzard to welcome Spring, and the birds were singing a symphony, taking care of the business of bird love. 
Did they mind that it still felt like mid-winter?  Not at all!  The natural flow of all things remains despite our dreams and wishes, projections and continuous reach for a perfection that doesn't exist.  

Last Saturday, 9 members of the Sangha met to celebrate the Spring Equinox with gentle yoga, opening the Butsudan with liturgy, chanting and offering incense, and plenty of sitting meditation.  Though it was only 24 hours after our blizzard, the snow only remained in the most shaded areas, and the sun shone brilliantly in its lovely Spring way, a light that promises so much support for all those local fruits and vegetables we will begin to enjoy in a matter of a month or two.  I can already taste the first strawberry!

Our Spring retreat centered on the foundational home practice of creating a personal Butsudan, and the significance of the elements one presents on the Butsudan.
We had a good laugh when I replaced our seated Buddha statue for my bag lunch, and asked, "What is not Buddha?"  Later the lunch was replaced by a cell phone.
Off to the side, Buddha just smiled enigmatically.

What we understand is that the Universe is distinctly present in every aspect of the Butsudan, the objects literally and metaphorically symbolic of Gautama Buddha's journey into enlightenment, his teachings of the 3 marks of existence, suffering, impermanence and emptiness, and the Sangha itself, as we gather to recite the liturgy and chant the Nembutsu while offering incense.
Here is the Triratna, the Triple Gem of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, so subtly represented.
We are "Buddha-ing" as we bow at the Butsudan, then turn to bow to the Sangha.  In Gassho, all the Universe practices with us, and we take our place beside our ancestors, our teachers, our lineage holders, beginning with the Buddha himself.

We feel the flakes of driven snow sting our faces, hear the love songs of the Red Wing Black Bird, smell the pungent odor of incense, watch the smoke spiral upward and disappear, evanescent. We taste the sweetness of mint tea, and share cup after cup.

Where do we go from here?  Nowhere.
What do we do?  Nothing
Who am I?  No one

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