Trying to make sense out of my experience of the first part of Chaplaincy training in the last two weeks.  There’s definitely something on the other side of the mesh in the window.  What it is, what it will be, will not resolve in my mind’s eye or heart simply because I wish it so.  Not-knowing, yet knowing something.  That something has been quartered into segments in the belief that it will be more easily digested.  So now, how to hold these fragments without losing sight of the whole and let knowing-not-knowing unfold.

All beginnings are challenging.  They call for letting go of assumptions and knee-jerk reflexes without negating the wisdom gleaned from past experiences.  When I harden my stare, all I can see is the morning mist, congealed on the mesh of the window.  If I can just soften to a gaze, I can see past the fog to the mountain, the workshed, the tools, and the ground being prepared for a more stable platform.  Yet, my vision returns over and over to be enmeshed in my delusional nature.  This will require effort.

You should know that arousing practice in the midst of delusion, you attain realization before you recognize it.  At this time you first know that the raft of discourse is like yesterday’s dream, and you finally cut off your old understanding bound up in the vines and serpents of words.  This is not made to happen by Buddha, but is accomplished by your all-encompassing effort.

Dogen’s Guidelines for Studying the Way from Moon in a Dewdrop, edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi

Thank you for practicing,


7 thoughts on “enmeshed

  1. Knowing that something is changing, not knowing what or how. Just sitting with it. Thank you for your sharing and taking the time and effort to do this training. May all beings benefit

  2. Nice Image,
    here’s one I like:

    “Hail to the Mandala!—Let us so be engulfed within its praises evermore that,—by our own wills and vigilance,—may we our fetters cut away.

    May we within the temple of our own hearts dwell—amidst the myriad mountains.
    Hail! Hail! Hail!”*

    This is part of the last recitation of the day before retiring, in preparation of the meditation period we call sleep. I have found it inspiring at all times because it calls upon Achlanatha (The Fierce, Immovable One) to be our example. Sometimes patience calls for a degree of inner fierceness on our part.

    *Invocation to Achalanatha: (Portion of Evening Office; The Liturgy of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives for the Laity: Shasta Abbey Press, 1987

  3. I love this picture and what a wonderful metaphor. And yes I always remember my teacher saying “things happen on their own timelines, not ours”. We can’t force this understanding or completion that we seem drawn to want. We keep on doing our part and in time it comes to us. She also would call this the “fruits of our training” and I always liked this image of something ripening. It always seems hard to remember when we are in the thick of it, looking for clarity.

    Wonderful Dogen quote!

  4. A week of peering through windows!

    Helmut, Thank you for the recitation. That inner fierceness is so powerful when accessed.

    Carole, Dogen and I were roommates this whole retreat!

    Janice, we’ll be exploring some of this in sangha. With the improved weather, I hope to see you there!

    Thank you, my friends! Your presence was very sustaining through the days.

  5. After you left for the retreat, I went to the Upaya site to look at the chaplaincy program. Now I understand better the depth and scope of commitment you have made, and which is certain to provoke a deep not-knowing. Thank you for making this wonderful commitment, which is certain to require lifelong effort! Would we have it any other way?

    • It says nothing about book reports, summary papers, and no easy access to chocolate-covered almonds when on campus! Thank goodness for my dear dharma sister who was among the first Chaplains ordained that weekend; she brought me a couple of pounds of CCA’s so I could survive! Yay Carol! Oh and the irony of scheduling the Trauma Resiliency retreat as a elective right after Chaplaincy Fundamentals did not escape some of us! 😈

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