Cloud

cloud

by Andy Gyoyo Sensei

My mother is an artist and sees the world through her unique perspective. She looks at seemingly disparate patterns and challenges us to see what she sees… “See that cloud? What do you see?” Quite frankly, I never see what she sees and often I see no pattern at all so I’ve learned to immediately ask what she sees- so I can know the right answer. But in one book, Thich Nhat Hahn asks if we can see the cloud in the paper from which we are reading- not in the abstract or spiritual sense but in the sense that without clouds and rain there would be no trees, and without trees there would be no paper. So, the cloud is in- or inseparable- from the paper. Over the years, I’ve tried to mediate about this interdependence- or the contingent nature of things as Batchelor-sensei would phrase it. So, my morning musings have expanded in the following manner when I contemplate things as they inter-are.

In the paper is the cloud

In the rock is the cloud

In the rose is the cloud

In Andy is the cloud

These expansions were added gradually as I came to see clouds in the inanimate, in living things, and in me. Without clouds, none would exist- though in different ways. Water is throughout me- no water, no Andy. No water, no rose to bloom. And the rock? Well, likely not much water within it- but the rock that I saw in my garden next to the rose was shaped over eons by water (and other rocks, etc.) to have its smooth surface- no cloud, no rain, no rock.

It seemed reasonably complete until the day I was simply absorbed in the clouds above and thought about ‘What’s in the cloud?” Well, first, it is empty- empty of itself. There is no cloud in the cloud. The cloud is made- is contingent upon- non-cloud elements. Trees give off oxygen and other gases that help form the cloud- so too does the rose bush. And bits of the rock fall/float/disipate off the rock and become part of the particulates around which water vapor coalesces to form droplets- to form clouds. And, of course, my breath mingles in the air and merges with clouds continuously- so Andy is in the clouds. For me, this is not a spiritual discussion- we’re talking about reality. So,…

In the cloud, there is no cloud- the cloud is made of non-cloud elements.

In the cloud is Andy

In the cloud is the rose

In the cloud is the rock

In the cloud is the paper

So whether you look up or down, in front or behind, everything contingently is.

 

Andy Gyoyo Bondy is Lay Minister for Bright Dawn Way of Oneness

Acknowledging Limitation

Still WaterNiko Byoyo Burkhardt

Recently, our group has been exploring the topic of realizing enlightenment through any means we have. As a group, humans tend towards the dramatic and glamorous so sometimes we think we will get to enlightenment by a grand gesture or event. I have been exploring the concept of enlightenment through acknowledging limitations over the past few weeks and find it very liberating.

There are so many judgments we have as individuals and a society or culture about what we “should” or “should not” be doing. For instance. someone with a very strong work ethic can feel very useless unless they are constantly engaged in some result oriented task.  When we encounter limitations in life, whether financial, physical or mental, we tend to judge ourselves and feel guilt.

In the past few weeks, I have had a chance to choose a different response to my own limitations. Rather than feeling guilty or defeated, I have experienced acceptance. After acceptance sets in for a while, I was able to see reasons to appreciate these limitations and have been able to use them as a springboard for new opportunities I could not have seen before. To me, this is a glimpse of enlightenment and it keeps me going when things seem too challenging.

As long as we are in resistance to a problem, we cannot see the way out of it. By resisting, we are in a state of mind that believes in duality. There is a problem and then there is me – they are two separate entities. By practicing acceptance, we become one with the limitation and thereby are empowered to move past it.

 

 

 

This Dharma Glimpse and many other can be found in our Bright Dawn Dharma Glimpses book. You can order one here.  You can also learn about the Bright Dawn Center, links to services, resources and the Lay Ministry Program. 

 

Out of work bodhisattvas

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Dharma Glimpse – C. Kakuyo Leibow

Lately I have been thinking of all the out of work Bodhisattvas wandering around smiling with signs saying, “ Will Gladly Share Merit” as people shuffle by with their heads down, some saying, “No thanks, I don’t need any.”  Others just pointing at the goody two shoes, laughing at them, “them bleeding heart liberals” they say, “You gotta earn your own merit boy”, while they walk around dissatisfied, and hollow, singing,  “ I built this! I built this!” scratching their heads because they still feel so unsatisfied.

I think I have always been attracted to the idea of a Bodhisattva. I appreciate the traditional concept of the vow taking and the rebirth back to everyday life, the suprahuman powers to take on a myriad of forms to guide us, help us, teach us and sometimes even pull us begrudgingly toward awakening and always willing to  share with us the merit of their compassion. I also appreciate the more expansive everyday conception of the Bodhisattva as expressed by Taitesu Unno when he writes that the Bodhisattva can be, “anyone who meets the challenge and provides care for the needy…whether that person knows anything about Buddhism or not.”

In the more traditional Mahayana Buddhist view point there is the idea that our positive deeds, acts or thoughts generate a sort of spiritual energy or power that can be accumulated.  This concept is fundamental to the idea of Karma and Buddhist ethics. This view extends to the idea that the merit that is generated by our skillful actions can be shared with other beings. In the early Theravada, it was with  deceased relatives. In the Mahayana that was expanded to all beings.  The Bodhisattva “shares” his merit with all sentient beings to help them toward enlightenment. Taking to its logical conclusion  we see the life and career of Dharmakara Bodhisattva who becomes Amida Buddha.  In the more expansive and less religious definitions, also seen in the writings of Gyomay Kubose and Thich Nhat Hahn, the more mundane merit generated by these Bodhisattvas can come in very concrete and everyday ways.  Something simple as a hand up, a listen and a place to be safe.  Both kinds of Bodhisattvas can be recognized by their practice of  Ksanti, their practice of patience, patience with us and our struggle to receive their help. Patient and out of work until we accept their gifts.  The awakened Bodhisattva knows as Sunada Takagi  has written that life is, “as much about graciously receiving as it is about giving”. 

 The practice of receiving, let alone even asking for help is challenging for many of us. The first time  I really, open heartedly  asked and accepted help wasn’t until I was in my late 40’!  All those Bodhisattvas in my life offering their merit and their compassion and me walking past them, sometimes with my head down, other times mocking them.  In my delusional thinking I believed that to need help was to be weak and to be weak was to be unlovable.

I think at this point it is important to realize that receiving is different than taking. We take food, love, money all the time.  The difference between the two is that when we take, our small-Self is saying, “ I earned this!”  When we get love from our wife or our children, when we get kudos at work, when we eat a lovely meal, we aren’t receiving the love, acknowledgement or food; we see ourselves as earning it. We take it because it is ours.   A similar strain of this construct is when we see ourselves as unworthy to receive anything. This can manifest as self-doubt and shame. In both strains we are stuck in seeing giving and receiving as economic exchanges but how could it be any other way?  I was never taught how to receive. How about you?  Most of us have been taught that it is better to give than to receive but how can that be since to give you need to have someone to receive? Proportionally it doesn’t add up.

Truly receiving is something different from taking. There is an inherent humility. There is an openness of heart, an acknowledgement of our interdependence and an awareness of our dependence on a myriad of things. Receiving is a place of openness and courage in that it implies a vulnerability; we may ask for something in that open space and not get it.   Yet in realizing our lack of control, our inability to fix love, joy and peace in place by somehow earning them, those very things arise naturally. Everything I receive is a gift, a gift to me and a gift to the give. An ever expanding circle of giving, where in the end there is no giver, no receiver and no gift.  A gift is not something earned and the “merit” offered by all the Bodhisattvas is a gift of love of boundless compassion as they watch on in our attempt to control the world. When we insist on ‘earning our keep” and we do not receive the gift , we miss out on the  boundlessness of grace that is offered us by everything and by all of our patient Bodhisattvas waiting for us.  I try to remember that even in the Dharma, what we receive from the teachings is so much greater, exponentially greater, than anything we put into the teachings.

In a previous paper I wrote about the Way of the Nembutsu is the path of gratitude. Before the path can open up there is the receiving; receiving the teachings and the compassion of the Buddhas and for us Pure Land leaning practitioners, receiving and entrusting in the compassion offered by Amida Buddha manifest in the formless form of his Pure Land.  For me the Way of the Nembutsu is the path of receiving the grace of Amida and all the Bodhisattvas and Buddhas, of setting aside calculations, schemes and dualistic and conceptual thinking, of sitting and chanting in an awareness of the abundance of the Buddhas and the Dharma and the Sangha.  I challenge myself and you to make room in ourselves to receive, to receive the abundance the Buddhas have to offer us.

When we turn toward our Bodhisattva ready to receive, she turns around her sign and on the other side our no longer out of work Bodhisattva has written this line,

“The buddhas say come, come, and dance.”*

And we dance.

MIBS

*  a line from Sakyong Mipham’s poem titled Come, Come and Dance.

Mind of Embracing All Things – Haya Akegarasu

Translated by Gyoko Saito and Joan Sweany

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Excerpt from Kegon Sutra

Reading an early passage of the Kegon Sutra, I came across a poem by the Ho-E Bodhisattva which made me want to cry out, “How wonderful!” Here it is:

Be free from subject and object,
Get away from dirtiness and cleanness,
Sometimes entangled and sometimes not,
I forget all relative knowledge:
My real wish is to enjoy all things with people.

This poem expresses so clearly what I am thinking about these days that I use it to explain my feelings to everyone I meet.

Subject or object, myself or someone else, individualism or socialism, egotism or altruism-forget about such relative knowledge be free from it! Right or wrong, good or bad, beauty or ugliness-don’t cling to that either. Forget about ignorance or enlightenment! Simply enjoy your life with people-this is the spirit of Gautama Buddha, isn’t it? I’m glad that Shinran Shonin said “When we enter into the inconceivable Other Power, realize that the Reason without Reason does not exist,” and again, “I cannot judge what right or wrong is, and I don’t know at all what is good and bad.” I hate to hear about the fights of isms or clashes between two different faiths. I don’t care about these things.

Somehow I just long for people. I hate to be separated from people by the quarrels of isms or dogma or faith, and what is more, I hate to be separated from people by profit or loss.

I don’t care whether I win or lose, lose or win. I just long for the life burning inside me. I just adore people, in whom there is life. I don’t care about isms, thoughts, or faiths. I just long for people. I throw everything else away. I simply want people.

It makes me miserable when close brothers are separated by anything. Why can’t they be their own naked selves? Why can’t longing people embrace each other?

I love myself more than my isms, thoughts, or faiths. And because I love myself so, I long for people. I am not asserting that my way is Love-ism or Compassionate-Thinking-ism! Somehow I just can’t keep myself in a little box of ism, thought or faith.

I must admit I am timid. Because I timid, I can’t endure my loneliness. I want to enjoy everything with people.

I go to the ocean of the great mind.

I go to the mind of the great power.

Once I hated people because they lived a lie; once I saw them as devils. Once I lamented because there was no one who cared about me. But now I long for them, even when they are devils and liars, even when they are evil. I don’t care, I can’t help it-I adore them! They breathe the same life that I do, even though they hate me, cheat me, make me suffer.

I am so filled with a thirst to adore people that there is no room in me for judging whether a person is good or bad, beautiful or ugly, right or wrong. This is not the result of something that I reasoned out, such as that I live by being loved or by loving. Regardless of any ism, thought, or faith, I cannot be separated from people because of that.

My spirit shines with the mind-of-embracing-people. Without reason or discussion, I just want to hug everyone! My missionary work is nothing but a confession of this mind.