MY HEART HAS BEEN THERE ALL MY LIFE

Once upon a time in the rainiest part of the rainy season, an old monastic began her pilgrimage to the holiest shrine on the holiest mountain in the land. Forced back by fierce winds and driving rain, she stopped at the foot of the incline to check directions one last time.

“Old woman,” the inn master scoffed, “this mountain is deep in wet and running clay. You cannot possibly climb this mountain now.” 

“Oh, sir,” the old monastic said, “the climb to this shrine will be no problem whatsoever. You see, my heart has been there all my life. Now it is simply a matter of taking my body there, as well.”

Source: As told by Sr Joan Chittister in keynote address
Assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious
(Atlanta Aug. 18-22, 2006)

CONSIDER THIS

There is some summit toward which every life is bent. All we really need is to find the faith it will take to complete the journey.

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UNTIL I AM TIRED OF DYING

On one of the few occasions that the disciple was able to Skype  the master – who for years has been working with refugees in a remote, far-flung, refugee camp under very difficult and dangerous conditions – a conversation ensued and the disciple asked, “How long will you remain there?”

And the master answered, “Until I am tired of dying.”

Source: Adapted by Philip Chircop from a recently heard story.

CONSIDER THIS

“We ought to learn how to die before we die, so that when we die, we won’t die.” 

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”  John 12:24-25 (The Message)

WHERE’S YOUR TEMPER?

A Zen student came to Bankei and said: “Master, I have an ungovernable temper — how can I cure it?”

“Show me this temper,” said Bankei, “it sounds fascinating.”

I haven’t got it right now,” said the student, “so I can’t show it to you.”

“Well then” said Bankei, “bring it to me when you have it.”

“But I can’t bring it just when I happen to have it,” protested the student. “It arises unexpectedly, and I would surely lose it before I got it to you.”

“In that case,” said Bankei, “it cannot be part of your true nature. If it were, you could show it to me at any time. When you were born you did not have it, and your parents did not give it to you — so it must come into you from the outside. I suggest that whenever it gets into you, you beat yourself with a stick until the temper can’t stand it, and runs away.”

Source | Osho, And the Flowers Showered: The Freudian Couch and Zen
Osho Media International, 2012) page 37

The full story can be found in The unborn: the life and teaching of Zen Master Bankei, 1622-1693 by Bankei, Normal Waddell, translator

CONSIDER THIS

Getting angry and losing our temper is a sign of weakness. If we cannot hold our temper, it ends up hurting us more than the one at whom it was directed at. As the Buddha once said: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Think about that!

LEARNING TO BE SILENT

The pupils of the Tendai school used to study meditation before Zen entered Japan. Four of them who were intimate friends promised one another to observe seven days of silence.

On the first day all were silent. Their meditation had begun auspiciously, but when night came and the oil lamps were growing dim one of the pupils could not help exclaiming to a servant: “Fix those lamps.”

The second student was surprised to hear the first one talk. “We are not supposed to say a word,” he remarked.

“You two are stupid. Why did you talk?” asked the third.

“I am the only one who has not talked,” concluded the fourth.

Source | Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki, Zen Bones, Zen Flesh
(Tuttle Publishing, 1998) pages 83-84

CONSIDER THIS

To observe silence in a healthy and life-giving way one has to leave ego, pride and competition behind.

CYCLING

A Zen Teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, “Why are you riding your bicycles?”

The first student replied, “The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!” The teacher praised the student, saying, “You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do.”

The second student replied, “I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path.” The teacher commended the student, “Your eyes are open and you see the world.”

The third student replied, “When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant, nam myoho renge kyo.” The teacher gave praise to the third student, “Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel.”

The fourth student answered, “Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings.” The teacher was pleased and said, “You are riding on the golden path of non-harming.”

The fifth student replied, “I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle.” The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said, “I am your disciple.”

Source | Unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER

And you, why do you ride your bicycle? Why do you do what you do?

SHOW ME THE KINDOM

A Christian who went to study Zen in Japan met a Zen master who asked her what was moving in her spiritual life.

“I dwell a lot recently on the idea of the Kindom of God,” she replied.

Instantly the Zen master said, Show me the Kindom of God!”

Source | Unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • You get nowhere by telling a Zen master about your ideas.
  • As it happens, the  woman in our story went on to eventually become a Zen master, and she spent much of her time and energy in prison ministry – setting captives inwardly free.
  • She is now through her daily deeds showing us the Kingom of God.
  • And where do you stand? Are you perhaps still stuck in ideas or unstuck in some form of social engagement?

NOTE

Please note that for me at this time in my evolution the ‘g’ in ‘kingdom’ is silent. Not pronounced. It’s really ‘kindom!’ ! The real purpose of God, I believe, is to build Kindom more than Kingdom. Kingdom is about hierarchies. Kindom is about all of us opening our eyes to see how everything and everyone is in fact a kin, a brother, a sister, a sibling. It is about building life-giving, relational connections: locally, globally and internationally … between different religions, faiths and denominations … between friends, strangers and enemies … between ourselves and those neighbours we never speak too … with all those who are different from us. It is also about forging some form of creative connection  with our four legged, winged and finned creatures and the environment.

 

 

 

IT’S NOT PERFECT TO BE PERFECT

A priest was in charge of the garden within a famous Zen temple. He had been given the job because he loved the flowers, shrubs, and trees. Next to the temple there was another, smaller temple where there lived a very old Zen master.

One day, when the priest was expecting some special guests, he took extra care in tending to the garden. He pulled the weeds, trimmed the shrubs, combed the moss, and spent a long time meticulously raking up and carefully arranging all the dry autumn leaves. As he worked, the old master watched him with interest from across the wall that separated the temples.

When he had finished, the priest stood back to admire his work. “Isn’t it beautiful,” he called out to the old master. “Yes,” replied the old man, “but there is something missing. Help me over this wall and I’ll put it right for you.”

After hesitating, the priest lifted the old fellow over and set him down. Slowly, the master walked to the tree near the center of the garden, grabbed it by the trunk, and shook it. Leaves showered down all over the garden. “There,” said the old man, “you can put me back now.”

Source | Patricis Kay Lebow, ColorFlow: Discover Your Perfect Colors. Experience Life’s Easy Flow, page 213

PONDER AND CONSIDER

The old, wise master in this story could well be practicing the ancient art of “wabi-sabi”.

“Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It’s simple, slow, and uncluttered – and it reveres authenticity above all.” | Robyn Griggs Lawrence, The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty