sati

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,

Genju

all in the waiting

I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope,
for hope would be hope for the wrong thing;
wait without love,
for love would be love of the wrong thing;
there is yet faith,
but the faith and the love are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

T.S. Eliot

I made the mistake of watching a dog movie.  No, not a “dog movie”  as in a bad one but a movie about a dog.  Everyone in my family knows this one rule: Never show me a movie about dogs.  I cried for days after the one about a Golden Retriever, cat and small dog running across country to find their owners.  Two weeks later, we got Bear, the Unretrievable.  Before that was Gareth the pure-bred mixed Lab-Shepherd and Blue the Coyote-Shepherd and Saura the beagle with recessive wolf genes.  And the most beloved, Grey – the Malamute who escaped the Shelter staff who were walking him down his last mile because he was unmanageable.  He wrapped himself around Frank’s legs and sat quietly in perfect sit position.  Frank was at the shelter looking for Saura who had disappeared.  Guess who came home to dinner.  There was one thing that marked them all – despite some of their wandering ways: they always waited, with infinite patience and complete forgiveness for our frequent tardiness.  After Bear passed on we decided our lifestyle and general uncertainty about life made a dog impractical.

So, back to the movie:  Hachi – A dog’s tale, starring Richard Gere.  In a stupid lapse of awareness I zoned in on the idea of a mindless night with Richard Gere and didn’t do my research on the movie.  Let’s face it, folks, Gere is lovely eye candy of graceful aging but his acting is best summed up as “oatmeal.”  Thankfully, I say, because if all Buddhists came in that form, I’d be looking forward to many more reincarnations to purify my desirous nature.  Perhaps that sentence should not be in the conditional.

Ok.  Back to the movie.  Originally made in 1987 by a Japanese  studio, Hachiko Monogatari is the story of a real dog, Hachiko, and his bond with his owner, Ueno Hidesaburo, a professor at University of Tokyo.  Ueno bought Hachiko in 1924 and, each day, Hachi went with him to and waited for his return at Shibuya train station.  Two years later, Ueno died suddenly of a heart attack at work and Hachiko was given away.  He broke free each time to return to Ueno’s old home and the train station.  He waited at the station for Ueno every day for 9 years before dying there on March 8, 1935.  A statue marks the place Hachiko spent at the station, waiting.  Gere’s remake, Hachi – A Dog’s Tale,  is faithful to the storyline and the movie was effective despite Jason Alexander and fake sets.

I can hardly be critical given I spent the remainder of the night crying.  It perplexes me, this reaction to dog movies.  But I think I got a tiny insight.  All of these movies are about loss and the loyalty it uncovers.  Persistence in the face of insurmountable odds.  Love.  Dedication and diligence.  They represent a commitment that breaks through the insecurity and need for guarantees which typifies human relationships.  In another Gere movie, responding to his fear of commitment because of the potential for loss, one of the characters says, “Every relationship ends with someone leaving someone.”  Someone forgot to tell Hachiko.

In all my relationships, there has been a waiting after letting go.  If I understand Eliot and this process, the heart pain in the waiting is because it was with hope and love for the wrong thing.  I’m expanding past the movie now but it struck me that I wait with a lot of activating fantasy. Once past the ruminative if only’s, I spiral through the anxious what if’s designing scripts and stagings of re-connections. Anticipation of how the reunion will be, what will be said, what will she or he look like.  When the loss cannot be eased, there is a desirous searching of each face that passes by – Is that you?  Is that you?

Ah, I want to wait without hope, wishful, misleading hope.  I want to wait just because it is what I do, simply and completely.

Thank you for practicing,

Genju