dirt beneath these nails…

dirty nails

Awake in the world
What is this meditation?
Dirt beneath these nails

~j

“A long time ago in China, a Zen student asked if any of the sages had ever fallen into hell.  His teacher answered that they are the first to go there!  The shocked student asked, ‘But if they are enlightened, why would they fall into hell?’  The teacher looked at the student and with a smile said, ‘If I didn’t fall into hell, how could I help you?’  Do you see what he is doing here?  He completely reverses the student’s problem, saying this is not about the student’s idea of purity, but about helping and caring.  That is what’s important.  He’s saying that you have to get your hands dirty; you have to dig right in.  Just as you are, without some special robe or degree or twenty years of meditation practice.  Just as you are, you can help.”

~ Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara
from the chapter “Living In The Suffering World”
from her book, “MOST INTIMATE: A Zen Approach To Life’s Challenges”

awake in the world…

dirty nails

awake in the world
what is this meditation?
dirt beneath these nails

~j

December 31, 2013

 

commentary:
solitary enlightenment is darkness
and being awake when others are asleep is a nightmare for the Heart of Love
meditation, contemplation, and prayer are all good
but to Love is to get one’s hands dirty
working for the benefit of all beings
off the mat and into the world, as it is said
this is the path of the Bodhisattva, this is the journey of a Warrior for Love

~j

a year later ~ Newtown…

Open Your Heart

“I hold my face in my two hands. No, I am not crying. I hold my face in my two hands to keep the loneliness warm – two hands protecting, two hands nourishing, two hands preventing my sould from leaving me in anger.”

“…remember: man is not our enemy…the only thing worth of you is compassion – invincible, limitless, unconditional. Hatred will never let you face the beast in man.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh

December 14th 2013

here we are.  a year later.

my heart is still clinging to the lost lives of 20 innocent children.  see their faces.  know their faces.  children who someday may have been artists, doctors, teachers, scientists, or parents with children of their own.  what inventions have we missed out on?  how many discoveries will have to wait?  how many inspired dreams will look to find a new home  – a new vehicle of birth into this world? 

questions, we’ll never know the answer to.

6 innocent adults died that day as well.  see their faces, know their faces.

bodies beyond recognition.

and a lone gunman also lost, even it seems before his horrific actions of that day.  see his face, know his face.

such a tragedy, such a dark moment.  27 lives lost, and how many more disturbingly wounded?

and here we are a year later with not much more than our grief, our frustration, and a polarized people frozen in their views.  aren’t we better than this? 

we must get to a place where we can listen – listen.  where we can dialogue without scapegoating the mentally ill, without scapegoating the media, without scapegoating responsible gun ownership.  we must open our awareness to recognize that the issue of violence in our culture runs much deeper than any vehicle in which it is carried out.  we must open our awareness to recognize that the issue of violence in our culture is much more subtle and therefore insidious than quick quotes or talking points that serve as distraction from the deep listening, the deep looking, the deep contemplation that is needed to bring healing and wholeness to our broken attempts at problem solving and our inability to find balance between privileges and rights.  we must be open to seeing how violence lives not only in our actions, but in our words and thoughts…we must look to where this violence is born and how it feeds.

we must come to a place where the news of 20 massacred children at an elementary school stops us cold in our tracks, convicting our hearts into a response so urgent, so necessary that it calls upon our betters selves to deep reflection that motivates us into action.  not action out of reaction and fear or hatred or bitterness, but action out of empathy, out of interdependence and sense of community.  it must be action out of compassion to end suffering at all costs, not perpetuation through the same deluted ideas and philosphies.  action that says – these lives, our children’s lives – life itself – is worth more than the pitiful energy we have given them so far.

if we can’t get to this place, this place of necessary coming together, this place that recognizes the shared responsibility we have in honoring what we so often and emptily claim as sacred – life, then i do believe more is at risk than any rights or privileges.  i do believe we are at risk of not only losing the very heart and soul of this country, but what is the unique manifestation of the divine that is us – our humanity.

life will go on, of course.  it always goes on.

but if we fail to rise to this challenge, to open our wounded hearts, to stand in the face of violence, to look into the eyes of fear –

life very well may look to another vessel with which it can share love, seeing no vacancy in hearts that already have a love affair with violence.

and then we will finally know what it is to be in hell, because we will have chosen to hold it in our closed hearts.

~j