Temple Chronicle (Winter Training in Japan): Facing Adversity Full On!

We modern people have become dis-integrated. This is not surprising as we live under the tyranny of time and space, success or failure, approval or disapproval, love or lovelessness. 

These extremes roll us between them like a ball on a board.

By choice, we spend our daily moments sailing on a stormy ocean lifted and dropped by massive waves. There is no respite from this manipulation, or what we judge as manipulation. ‘Someone else’ creates the waves and the wind, and forces us to be on board! 

There is seldom calm on this kind of sea, but we may induce it though with a soothing substance, with anesthetic, or instead, bury our dreams and self-honesty and let a trespasser deal with the danger.

If we do not have a stable core to contrast with the absurdity of human behavior lived out under tyrants, then we are literally moving from one wave crest to the next, relentlessly. We are not in control because we are outside our spirit, trying to hold everything still in the midst of great flux, trying to make meaning of the nightmare with the conditioned mind. 

One thing finishes and we rush on to the next, galvanized one minute, recuperating the next, always reacting to some prodding from an external source.

The conditioned mind combined with the regulations of society and our communities have snuffed out our inner light, the connection with our True Nature. We are mechanically inhabiting our physical form, but our spiritual essence is lying stagnant. When we look more closely, we find another automaton being has been created by the conditioned mind to fill the fleshy shell, and to take over ownership.

Our stable core has not disappeared entirely but the strata of meaningless life have been laid over the top of it. If we want to integrate once more, we need to find a way to activate and unearth it. Moist moments of meditation, of stepping briefly into the great still silence, will start the process of loosening and removing these strata. 

But it will happen more quickly and effectively if we can take more control of the ship: loosening the sails, off-loading unnecessary ballast, or smiling for no reason because we know that no terrible situation can last forever. It is certain that eventually the waves will subside and the sun will emerge.

Adversity is inevitable in our human lives and as the French origin of this word points out, we should turn into the strong winds of negativity and challenges that we encounter, not away from them. Only fear makes us resist, but fear is a tactic of the conditioned mind to entice us to turn away. Turning towards? Turning away? This is entirely our choice.

If we turn towards our suffering, going with the massive swell of the waves, then we can embody it and better deal with it. Fear and other delusions are random flashing lights which distract us from our native stability. Looking full in the face of our suffering will shift away the strata so that our True Nature will overcome anything.

The Master assures us that confronting a difficult relationship we shy away from is exactly how will find our way back to our stable core. This is because we ‘are’ that situation; it is not something the we ‘have’ or that is imposed on us. 

If we say the words, ‘I am suffering,’ and not ‘I have so much suffering,’ we step into control, no longer a pitiable victim of life’s cruelty. 

In reality, we are neither separate nor exempt

Images courtesy of Linden Thorp and megapixyl.com

Winter training is an annual event in Japan when Buddhists practise austerities and change their daily routines dramatically in order to awaken to new spiritual insights. This is a daily chronicle consisting of reflections on such insights.

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