"Mindfulness and Meditation allow us to open our hearts, relax our bodies, and clear our minds enough to experience the vast, mysterious, sacred reality of life directly. With Practice we come to know for ourselves that eternity is available in each moment.

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

Friday, August 25, 2017

Promises, Promises

Each of you is perfect the way you are ... and you can use a little improvement.”
Suzuki Rosh

“Daily sitting is our bread and butter, the basic stuff of dharma. 
Without it we tend to be confused.”
Charlotte Joko Beck

A Carmelite Monk and his Vows
There were quite a few of us back in the day that were first drawn to Zen because of its seemingly irreverent and iconoclastic tenor and tone.  To a bunch of us erstwhile hippies, peaceniks, and radicals, those ancient monks kicking over water jugs, writing poems lauding drunkeness, proclaiming Buddha was a "shit stick", etc., seemed like our kind of guys. 

Little did we know.

Once I actually connected with a teacher and a sangha, a different reality emerged.  I found that the foundation of Zen Buddhism, like that of other spiritual traditions throughout the world, rests squarely on a set of vows and precepts.  Rather than becoming a member of another tribe of free form hippies, I found out that engaging in formal Zen training with a teacher meant making a commitment to a set of clearly stated intentions: Taking Refuge in the Triple Gems, the Four Bodhisattva Vows, the Three Pure Precepts, and the 10 Essential Precepts was expected.  It was part of the deal.


Jeez.  In the Judeo-Christian world, we only had to worry about the ten commandments! Now? Do the math. This is twice as many.  So much for being hip and cool, for "doing your own thing!"

Or so it seemed. 
Now, decades down the road, having explored this set of intentions in various contexts, even ordaining for awhile in one order, I've come to understand the nature of commitment differently.  Although I have maintained a commitment to a daily morning practice for a long time now and recite the 4 Bodhisattva Vows (in one form or another) most days, what is involved doesn't have much to do with making a choice to follow a code of conduct, or a commitment to being a "good" person as opposed to being a "bad person".  Nor are the promises I've made primarily about achieving the goal of enlightenment, arriving at a destination other than where I am at any one the moment. 

The fundamental commitment made is simply the ongoing choice to Be Present, with as much Kindness and Compassion as I can muster, to the ever-changing, ongoing Flow of Life as it emerges in each and every moment.  I've found that as I commit to open my heart and mind and senses to what simply is, the promise made is, in itself, the promise fulfilled.  The commitment is doing me more than "I" am doing it.

Reality Holds Great Promise. 

At this stage of the journey, it's often quite clear to me that the One Love that permeates the Universe simply is.  Life seems to know what needs to be done -- or not done.  Flowers bloom.  Flowers fade and die.

Sometimes it seems to appropriate to be "doing my own thing" on the material plane of action, or in the realm of thoughts, visualizations and prayer.  

Most the time, it's seems like all I can "do" is to pause in wonder, realize I don't really know what is going on at all-- and just let Life be what it Is.  (As if I could do otherwise. LOL)  

At this point, it's all Practice.  The choice, if it is a choice, to take a conscious breath, relax a bit, feel my heart -- and really pay attention.   

What else is there to do?

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I hadn't read the other translations of the bodhisattva vow before. So far I still find the one going "Beings are numberless..." stomach-clenchingly scary, and I liked the one that began "May I be a protector to those without protection..."