Shadow-lit by fireflies,
imprints in the snow,
dark grass pressed to earth ~
I know you are here.
In my joy,
I startle you away…
Growing up as an immigrant child in a community that was xenophobic, yet which drew from a multicultural matrix, was a headtrip to say the least. I think it was enough just to be one kind of different without adding a spiritual layer that would have separated me further. So my searching was done quietly in the dark. Books read late at night and hidden in the day. Meditations when the house was empty. Conversations redirected when questions arose about faith, religion, or ethnicity. In my need to belong, I didn’t realize I was sweeping the ground clear of any traces of the Ox.
The Ox, however, is not easily dissuaded. The traces began to appear through filaments of intellectual pursuits. Understanding terms, concepts, the preferences of authors to state things this way and that. Loori teaches that in this stage of the spiritual journey, the path is clear as daylight. It is nothing other than our lives. I wish. Well, it may be for those more spiritually endowed or tested.
What I recall is a lot of confusion.
Often, the trace of the Ox lead to a creature of a different ilk. Meditation calmed the body but not the spirit. Rituals soothed the soul but not the actions. Later, community provided solace but not safety. Strong desire can create wondrous illusions and with no community or fellow travellers, it was hard to know what was going to be useful and beneficial. Externally, the journey was Dewey-decimal-organized; the inner journey, on the other hand, consisted of crashing around in the brambles, startling birds and little animals. (I think they might have been the Ox too!) There were frequent moments of stepping back in surprise or shock, obliterating the evidence of the Ox. Then, there were set-backs and dervish-like twirlings trying to find that next trace which, in my linearly-trained mind, would lead to the Ox. But if the Ox knew “if this, then that,” it didn’t interpret that specific teaching as a linear equation to enlightenment. It was a twisted, agonizing process of seeing, grasping, losing, craving, made tolerable only by the growing comfort of time on the cushion. There, I discovered a lot of what we politely refer to as “meadow muffins” and, in my haste to get to the beast, set foot in a few piles.
I wish I knew then – but I’m glad I know now – that stepping into my personal bull-shit is the best indication that I’m close to my Ox nature!
Thank you for practicing,