I read this morning that the early Christian church took on the laws and structures of the Roman state. It was when persecutions of Christians ceased and mandatory affiliation as a Christian became the norm which led to persecutions of non-Christians. It was an ancient trend that is re-rooting in the United States. It is an old trend, in revival mode. Alongside this revival of an old trend of persecution and violence is a constancy of spiritual and religious freedom for all.
Trends are nothing new, groups form and share what is attractive or fashionable and trends take hold. There are, however, some who feel the new impetus of violence, and force should be the national structure of the United States. Any religious regime for violence and hate, although growing, is not favorable for spiritual awakening.
Spiritual realization is a personal matter. Not subject to trends and drifts of forceful elimination of religious freedom.
Each of us, in our own way, seeks to return to Our True Original nature. Each one of us does that in our way of life whether we exclaim that is what we are doing or not. Experience is a powerful teacher which constantly gives us an opportunity to hear and know the Dharma.
Each one of us came from One Source which we cannot speak or define with our human limitations. Yet, despite our limitations, we seek to know our True Nature which is buried beneath our conditioned identity.
No one is to judge another – despite our tendency and inclination to do so.
When we judge, we “miss-the-mark.”
Where are we – those of us that practice the Dharma?
Our spiritual work is not a trend, although Zen Buddhism seemed to offer a flashy alternative for those who wanted to be in a chic, fashionable spiritual practice. Eastern traditions, however, offer more than fashion and style.
The “churches” whatever that might mean today, continue to struggle with ancient laws and the old structures of a Roman state. Although to affiliate with a particular denomination or religious dogma is not the norm today. Neither is it popular from a worldly perspective to study the Dharma unless it is hip deep into psychology and brain science. These new interests may be all the rage in Buddhist and Christian circles but they do not serve the spiritual seeker, and they may not be a favorable environment for spiritual liberation.
You see, the ego-self is happy to be in a dalliance with modern ideas, a romance with impermanence followed by suffering. For all ideas are fleeting, passing coquetry. We flirt with them to our detriment.
In such an affair, the ego remains strong, frivolous and the center of our lives. As long as the ego-self holds a central position our ability to know the Dharma is blocked.
- “What is the environment that matches an inner longing to awaken for you?”
- Is it to continue where you are, as you are?
Or is there a sense of seeking that is not quenched by the material world of psychology, science or even religious laws and dogma?
It seems there may be a sense of foolishness that conflicts with an inner sense of purpose and we get stuck on this ledge. It is on this ledge, we battle and may live out the short life we have been given in an inner skirmish between the ego and the Dharma.
We do not want to be as fools, but we do want to know our purpose. The ego bangs the door shouting, “You fool!” when we consider devotion to the Dharma as our purpose. It may come in the form of others berating such a purpose or it may be doubts of one’s devotion that weakens conviction and commitment.
Devotion of this sort requires guts and a keen sense of inner loyalty to this devotion. This type of devotion is not understood by the material world.
“Where is your allegiance?”
This work demands a greater honesty than psychological analysis, where defenses are reworked and rebuilt in more “appropriate” and “healthy” ways. A mask of defenses is still a mask and it disguises and blocks knowing the Truth.
As human beings, we tend to relate to everything as “mine” and this masquerade although often acceptable in the material world is a death mask in the spiritual realm.
Here is an example.
When we are alone, feeling blue or lonely we tend to want to find a way to get rid of this feeling. We hunt for things to make this feeling go away. The dispelling of the feeling often takes the form of a thought such as what can I do to feel better? Call a friend? Do something? The sense of “me” is central. This is the human condition and is normative in the material world.
“What about “me?”
“How do I look after “me?”
If we seek help from the material world, we will get directions on how to get what we need or how to get what we want so we will not feel “lonely” or “blue.” We can barely imagine another way, a way that looks for the Dharma of the feeling, of the moment, of what is actually going on in a given circumstance.
It is similar to being in the darkness, when we are in the darkness we hunt for a light switch to end the darkness. What if we remained with the feeling, facing whatever it is as the voice of Dharma trying to get our attention. Would we listen to the voice of the Dharma rather than react to an inner impulse to escape the feeling?
What if we met it, met the feeling as part of our interior landscape without rationalization or even reason, but just meet it. It requires an allegiance and devotion to seeing everything, the whole panorama of inner experience as the voices and sights of Dharma and letting go of the topography as “ME & MINE” It means accepting whatever is happening, wherever we are, as our life.
This inner geography is our spiritual life, whether we see it or not. It requires relinquishing the fantasy for something to be better. Just accept what shows up and experience it and see what comes.
This practice is an expedition of leaving “ME and MINE” and crossing into the unfamiliar spiritual geography of solitude, silence and wholehearted engagement with the diversity of the Dharma, the assortments of existence and experience.
The ancient teachings of this practice do not rely on violence, mandatory affiliation and dogmatic laws. It focuses on the study of oneself in all the array of diversity and practice. It requires dispassion.
Zen Contemplative of the Order of Hsu Yun
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