Sometimes looking at something from a different point of view helps. After last week’s exploration through Daido Loori’s book Teachings of the Insentient, I’ve been getting down to earth – literally. Lying on the deck now free of the twigs and bark from the fallen maples, I looked up through the tulips and daffodils. The red tulip looks like a lotus and in my mind, it is a lotus. In the Ultimate reality, it is both tulip and lotus – and neither. Petals, leaves, chemicals, cells, and so on are all the same, only coming together in a different form. Actions can be like that too.
The story of Hachiko (all in the waiting) opened my heart to skillfulness in waiting all the while wondering what sustained his daily return to the train station. (Yes, the psychologist in me can give you many explanations based on reinforcement theories!) If I get out of my head and into my body/mind the story also opened me to a felt sense of what it means to walk this path in the way I do. At certain junctures of my practice, I’ve become swallowed in what can only be called “ownership” of and by others. Dharma teachers and sangha members generate a multiplicity of relationships and, in our humanness, many have resulted in leaving, letting go, and sometimes even becoming invisible. Walking on after the loss, regardless of the support, and with only a deep abiding belief in the path of service has required digging deep to uproot my desires and greed. Slowly I begin to see it all differently; that it is love which propels me forward and sustains my faith. It is what compels me to return at each prescribed hour, like Hachiko, to wait for my teacher, the present moment. It is by this ritual of returning that I strive to honour my bond with the Buddhadharma.
In Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem “Recommendation” I can see the edges of what it means to practice faithfulness:
Alone again, I will go on
with my head bent down,
knowing that love has become eternal.
And on the long and difficult road,
the light of the sun and the moon
is still there
to guide my steps.
Perhaps once grief has softened, it becomes a simple ritual of sati, which is translated as mindfulness, remembering.
Thank you for practicing,
We do walk on, both after the loss and also with the loss. And, in walking forward, perhaps our greediness and rage becomes more clearly revealed. In any case, we keep on walking.
I love the poem – the recognition that the road is long and difficult, and yet filled with sunlight and moonlight.