Musings

January 2023 Musings

May we be receptive to the bliss of the arising moment! 
 
Those of us who attended the New Year’s retreat may recognize this phrase as a translation of the more traditional greeting Happy New Year, marking the beginning of another revolution of our planet around the sun. Being present to the 6,400,099,180 moments that some Buddhist scripture calculates to be the number of moments in a single day becomes an altogether mysterious and glorious practice of receptivity to bliss.
 
Moving past ignorance, the inability to see things as they are, is foundational to a practice of awareness. This is why we are invited to constantly challenge unexamined assumptions. As a practice of inquiry dismantles conditioned ideas, we begin to sense dimensions of Being below and beyond the world manufactured by the mind. We begin to deepen awareness of how Life is when not perceived through the limits of conditioned lenses. For example, when we explore time (one of our new-year weekend workshops!) and look beyond the assumption that time is a linear stream that flows from the past through the present to the future, what might we see? Perhaps we see, as the Buddha did, transiency as the true nature of existence. Perhaps we see a Reality that pulses into existence moment by moment, containing all beings in a single instant of spacetime, as Zen Master Dogen did. 
 
To experience ourselves as a moment of consciousness in a vast expanse of dancing Intelligence re-contextualizes how we perceive and value the unfolding we call “my life.” But to see ourselves as we are, it seems we have to grapple with seeing through what we are not. Fortunately, for some of us, ego, the illusion of separation from True Nature, obscures but does not silence the seeking. We are guided on the path by the Intelligence that is, the shimmering wisdom that unfailingly recalls us to ourselves.
 
That we need to be recalled to ourselves appears to be part of a game of hide and seek. The still small voice is our constant companion, but it is often drowned out by the din of those other voices (egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate) that we are more accustomed to listening to. So the game provides an “external embodiment” of the inner guidance in the form of a Guide. During the storms of identification, when we feel lost and adrift, we are in need of an advocate of the heart, a compass to Center, a mirror that reflects who and what we authentically are. Guides come in many forms at different times and places: snatches of music, writings of sages, the poetry of mystics. And if we are lucky on our journey, we have access to a living presence, someone without any personal agenda other than enthusiasm to assist all beings to end suffering, someone whose inner radiance recalls us to what we have forgotten, someone who embodies the Unconditional Love and Acceptance that we are all seeking to find.
 
If Each Moment Is the Universe, as Katagiri Roshi teaches, then no moment is more special than this one. But the constellation of moments that constitute 2023 may be an exception. 
 
This year, (6,400,099,180 x 365 days) represents many moments of significance. 
This year we celebrate the Guide’s 80th birthday on April 18th
This year we honor 40 years of the practice of going beyond self-hatred. 
This year we observe the 10th anniversary of our vow to give up feeling bad. 
 
It is impossible to express gratitude for what we have received through this practice and the Guide. But a gift of practice might be the most appropriate way to say thank you. 
 
On April 18th, observe our traditional Day of No Self-Hate.
On the 18th day of each month of this year, practice “not feeling bad” and call in to Open Air and share your insights.
At 4:18 p.m. every day, stop and make a recording that directs attention to thisherenow, recalling you to the Wisdom, Love and Compassion that is your True Nature.
 
And, if Life wills, participate in the Summer of Sangha and wish the Guide a Very Happy Birthday in person.
 
In gasshō
ashwini