Temple Chronicle: Winter Training in Japan – Fear!

It is fear that makes us inflexible and forces us to suffer. We are first taught it as helpless children by our ‘kind’ parents who are passionate for our success and survival in the visible world. And so, our reflexes are honed and our target sights are set. The regime of training by other adults with experience and knowledge, who themselves are highly trained, is usually strict.

It is then that masks and social apparatus are issued so that we can receive approval from our community, quickly fit in and gain respect, wealth and fame being paramount. But fear easily lodges in these intricacies like dust on an elaborately carved choir screen. We gradually become insensible to it so it mounts up until the gaps for air and light are covered over.

The heavily conditioned mind thrives on this substance ‘fear.’ It efficiently suppresses originality and the courage to be truly ourselves, first with others, but then eventually with ourselves, so that we are no longer familiar with our True Nature and become self-dishonest

Dishonesty frets the perpetual dialogue in our heads until eventually we cannot glean the difference between it and honesty. Then our strings of words create a new being, a permanent resident in the house of our flesh and blood.

So, our spirit energy has been trapped, caught up in a million meshes! It is incarcerated so that we will follow the rules and fulfill the expectations of our communities. We are anxious about the rapidly approaching age of robots and our possible obsolescence, but those who live in massive urban communities have been ‘system slaves’ for several centuries. We tend to abdicate everything to mediocre leaders, even the kindling of our divine spark which becomes a mere pipe dream.

Fear has been heavily utilized by governments, religions and educators to maintain control of individuals, and as a result, the innate goodness at the core of each individual has gone underground. Endemic fear has become focused only on the negative, the evil, the destructive, the anarchic so that goodness has become a cliché,a pleasant myth, a triviality, something in the background. It is seen as a by-product of the domination of the visual sense, detected in everything we see, and in the commentary we produce to accompany it.

But if we close our eyes and stop the babble, it recedes with each grateful breath.

Above all, in our human journey, we must find the truth according to our individual divinity, and in it our mission will be patent, our exact contribution in the visible world outlined. Our specific talents and strengths are in great need at this time of disintegration to reunite us in one bright light.

The Master promises us that the visible and the invisible are one, and fear will vanish if we remain supple and bring goodness into the forefront of human life. We are each a piece of the unfinished puzzle.

Winter Training – every year in Japan spiritual seekers do intensive training designed to break their habitual way of living and responding, to wake them so they can get insights into reality. Everywhere they perform austerities of body and mind; the practice of cold-water ablutions is common – breaking the ice formed on barrels of water left out in the freezing night air, and then scooping it over the head and shoulders, is very effective.
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Watch out for more reflections and insights during this winter period.
Images courtesy of megapixyl.com and Linden Thorp

Envy: the Middle Way

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         ‘Listen to these teachings with the ears of your heart.’

In his pursuit of enlightenment Buddha practised many austerities bringing himself almost to the point of death.  After his enlightenment, the first teaching he gave was called the ‘path of wisdom’ – moderation between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. He gave this first teaching to the 5 ascetics with whom he had practised such severe austerities. 

He said, ” Monks, these two extremes ought not to be practiced by one who has gone forth from the household life (those actively seeking enlightenment). There is addiction to indulgence and self-pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unworthy and unprofitable; and there is addiction to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy, and unprofitable.’

The Middle Way allows vision and knowledge and leads to calm and insight, to Enlightenment and to Nirvana, the cessation of all cravings.’  

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In response to this realization, envy comes from an extreme selfishness and an ignorance of ones own inner beauty and bliss.  If we have not allowed our own being to bloom due to pressure to compete with others so common in the world today, then we lack trust, trust in our uniqueness, in our goodness. And trust in others to recognize our uniqueness and our goodness.

If jealousy and envy of others exists, then love has been driven away.  If we cannot find joy in the success of others, then we have turned away from our true nature. And if there is no self-love then we will never leave the cycle of rebirth and are destined to suffer in the lower realms. In other words, we will never escape from samsara, the world of human suffering.

The Buddhist way is often misunderstood as extreme and complete passiveness and selflessness. But it is clear that by resisting dying from practising austerities, Buddha acknowledged that first he needed to love himself and to preserve his precious life without over-cherishing it so that he was in a condition to love others unconditionally. If our own Buddha Nature is not shining then we cannot recognize it in others. 

 

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Mindfulness – the watching of thoughts arising in the mind without being attached to them – will show us the envious mind. It will show us that these kinds of thoughts separate us away like a dry husk from the rich universal consciousness. We watch the thought or feeling arise and then let it pass without identifying with it, without stamping it  with our name, without earmarking it.  It is simply a negative thought which arises and then passes like all thoughts do. They are the product of the mind – the dusty mechanical repository of  the collective conditioning of the human race. They are dead things which float around tempting us to become attached.

 

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Meta – loving kindness – will reveal our natural essence of unconditional love for all beings. It will show us that love is not an adornment or an accessory, something we ‘have’ or ‘show,’ but is our essence. We are love and being born into a human body provides the perfect and unique opportunity to embody that love.  Buddha Gautama went on to embody unconditional love all his life in the human world. 

 

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‘May this teaching touch you fleetingly and then flow to others touching them similarly.’

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Not the same for even a moment

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Maulinputta, a devout disciple  came to Buddha and humbly apologized for having offended the Buddha the previous day. This disciple had been enlightened for a long time and was a great scholar of the scriptures, one of the most famous pundits of the realm.  The Buddha was taken aback and claimed that he had done nothing to offend. 

But Maulinputta insisted that he must apologise and vowed never to make the same mistake again. And again the Buddha denied that one of his most respected disciples had done nothing wrong.  

A third time he came to apologise, but Buddha turned to him and told him that he promised to convey his apology to the person he had offended if he came across him. Once again he reassured the disturbed Maulinputta that he had not offended the Buddha. 

Then seeing the distress of his beloved disciple, he sat down with him and explained tenderly.

Maulinputta, the man you think you offended no longer exists.

The disciple was perplexed by this, asking urgently for more clarification for fear of losing his indispensable guru.

I am not the same as I was even 1 second ago.  So I am completely different to the man you think you offended yesterday.

Maulinputta’s eyes lit up realizing that Buddha was teaching him.

Maulinputta, you are still attached to these visual tricks of the mind. Remember, all life is sheer energy constantly moving, like a fast-running mountain stream.  You cannot hold on to anything except the fast-running spirit enveloping us. Step in the stream and feel the flow. This is your liberation Maulinputta.

 

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Making images : our major test as humans

 

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Humans are actually taught to make images to symbolize or represent almost everything – for remembering, for recognizing, to navigate, and so on – and we excel at it. This aptitude to bring to bear rich imaginations and wide vision in our daily lives is one of the things that differentiates us from animals and plants.

But actually, this often becomes an abstract route to creating our exclusive way of seeing the world. It literally forces us to identify, to stamp ‘me’ and ‘mine’ on that mind moment, and if we are not mindful we may become attached to such images, mistaking them for reality.  

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This temptation to ‘identify’ with the images we constantly create is our major test as humans – our conditioning and DNA (countless ancestors who have lived distant to the sacred) lead us to etch a clear line between reality and the imaginary, to make a distinction between the visible and the invisible. Also, we unknowingly consign ourselves to experiencing life always from the sidelines, via concepts and archives.

But many of us have never even heard of this test which means that we have fully and unconsciously turned our backs on our divine mission. Instead, we favour and over-cherish a synthetic ‘self’ invented by the dictatorial intellectual mind. This is pure ego and arrogance: some would say it is the dark side of human beings, our personal ‘Satan,’ our samsara, It is as if we are constantly resisting the gravitational field of love and goodness. These resistant consumers surround us in modern life: those who live lives of surrender and desireless-ness are rare.

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Science informs us that human beings have evolved physically as much as they can; in other words, that we are at our peak as a species, but evidently our spiritual evolution is badly retarded. As a result, most of us are not truly happy and neither is the world at large. We are restless, insatiable, destructive and primitive, unable to create harmony in our social groups for the most part and constantly craving artificial stimulation.

In our short-sightedness in life most of us convincingly conceal our terror of death and disappearance. But this endemic fear has caused us to lose the use of so many subtle tools available to the higher mind: the mind of ‘grace’ (Christian) or emptiness (Buddhist) or moksha (Hindu). Instead, we invest all our energy in the visible, the intellectual and in acquiring. We give over our precious human existence to shopping, possessing and questing for attention, and so we have become major stakeholders in the worlds of materialism and sensual satisfaction.

Given our huge stake, it is logical that we sit back in our high comfortable chairs, flicking switches and frittering away our time viewing visual collections. Logic? – Another resistance to what is natural.

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We may even make images to represent our own minds: for example, the iceberg with its small tip showing above the water surface and its mass below, symbolizing the conscious mind and the unconscious mind respectively: the onion with its tender centre and its layer upon layer of ever-hardening skins is another. Although this may be useful to try to appreciate or recognize the difference between these two contrasted aspects of our mind, it does in fact separate them from one another in an Aristotelian way.

By attaching ourselves to such images, we are unwittingly identifying with them and so coaxing our contrived ‘self’ to acquire and possess compulsively.  In actuality, there is no self to identify with anything material because we are beings of energy made flesh for the express purpose of evolving spiritually.

It is preferable then to avoid making or encouraging these images even though they may seem to ease understanding. Ironically, understanding in its original sense is connected to listening not looking.  Perhaps, rather than finite blocks of black and white as captured on screens and pages and in bold framed linear scenarios, there is only a boundless greyness which floats and fleets in whatever shape is needed to embody the essence of love. There is only an unconditional listening, a subtle flickering of our essence of light.

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If we give up trying to pin down our feelings, cementing them into our foreground, crying out for witnesses to come forward and acknowledge us, asserting our view to others, we might realize that the field of awareness is infinite and has no boundaries, no images.  Then we can quietly coalesce in the field needing no images or intermediaries at all.

By closing the busy outer eyes so addicted to colour, shape and orientation we can close the image albums and lock the archives, walking away to our real home beyond all concepts created by the human mind. Then we will be able to clearly hear the sound of reality moving and merging, the concrete sound of infinity and eternity, of goodness and the divine.

True understanding consists of universal unconditional listening during which nothing is pinned down, nothing is owned and everything becomes one. We embody love with our true nature enabled only by the privilege of breathing air granted from the universe. Everything else is simply arranged only to stimulate the intellectual mind.

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‘We shall know each other by our deeds and being,

and by our eyes and no other outward sign save

the fraternal embrace.’

The above is a verse from the Cathar Creed (1244), The Church of Love. The spirit of life is played out whilst silently respecting everything on the material plane though not identifying with it; accepting everything but quietly supporting those who need support. It is clear from our history that identifying and possessing destroy and engender greed and ignorance. Using images is, in a way, an attempt to possess aspects of the visible, to keep them for reference as a source of knowledge.

The medieval mystic Cathars possessed nothing material, not even Bibles which showy Christians had become slaves to. Indeed, all the great spiritual adepts have dispensed with material supports. Instead, they did what was natural and wholeheartedly embodied their spirit of compassion and humility.

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I have deliberately positioned myself in my life in a different culture (Japan) in which I cannot easily read or write or even understand the society around me.  This is the most precious opportunity to stop making images and concepts.  I notice that I am not using my mind in the same way as I did living in my native culture because it is often impossible to make interpretations of my environment here.

As I wander down crowded streets decked out with loud kanji, katakana and hiragana neon signs so characteristic of Japanese cities, whisked aside by bicycles mounted on the pavement and bustling people pushing through crowds, I can often only listen deeply and breathe. It is no use bringing out my image albums and brandishing metaphors and idioms because they are meaningless in a culture which reads the air instead of dissecting and deeply analyzing ideas.

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It is often impossible to imagine what is going on in other minds around me because there is no pattern I can predict, no pictograph I can possibly imagine, no inherited template. I can only embody my love and float around sealing away the intellect and allowing visions to temporarily occupy me, while relying on my ancient senses to help me to navigate.

There is only the field of awareness. I am the terraced shaking paddy, standing in sluiced rice rows, paddled by ducks and frogs, activated by tremors from the inflamed warts of the Earth’s crust below me, burned and bundled and finding its way inevitably into famished stomachs.

Here, I have dramatically learned how not to be separate from anyone or anything here in a Land created from the hair and kimono of the million gods. To interfere with this seamlessness for even a second to create an image, to snap a shot, would make me gasp for air!

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Images: courtesy of megapyxl.com
  1. Bird and web  – Alisen.com
  2. Sensing Energy between palms –  Nikkizalewski.com
  3. Man hunting. bushman’s prehistoric cave art –  Wilad.com
  4. Three geisha –  Razvanjp.com
  5. Cosmic Transformation –  thefinalmiracle.com
  6. Iceberg – Luislouro.com
  7. South and North pole and all things related – Stuidoclover.com
  8. SoundHealer’s web banner – Nikkizalewski.com

Temple Chronicle: 29th February

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The light of day comes and it goes from my personal theatre. Objects and people come and they go, they wax and wane, as I watch from the gallery. This appearance and evanescence can affect me in two ways, but I am free to choose only one of them.

Either I can swallow the beauty I see as it glimmers and gurgles, calmly enjoying, marveling, weeping, smiling in the centre of the moment, and moving smoothly without flinching on to the next to supersede. I look and listen in absolute trust at these arisings and descendings because I know and accept that they are finite, that they will run only for a limited number of seasons. My indestructible essence of love is the lubricant which brought me to the theatre and will convey me back to the ether high above the lit streets.

Alternatively, I can hold the beauty in my mouth, refusing to let it go, to swallow it, wanting to immortalize it and make it permanent, to possess it so that no-one else can have it. The emotions that arise as a result of the stimulus are negative, inverted, flinching so that they separate me away form everyone else in the world, from my race and from the natural world. They are rooted in my fear that the supply of beauty will end, and so I must create my own stores because I have no shred of trust. My love essence has brought me this far smoothly, but I sabotage it deliberately so that I do not have to leave, and put it aside as spent fuel.

In the same way, I can accept that my form is imperfect as it ages, becoming worn and weathered. I can humbly embrace its decay in concert with all things in the universe, accepting this physical withdrawal of flesh and bone, but constantly delighting at the sights and sounds that flow around me now and here. There is no astringent peak of the taste of fear, just a subdued broad flavor to savour. Everything is exactly as it is. There is no friction of ownership or cloying. I gently polish myself, restrained, quiet – disturbing no-one, content to cherish my steady but gradual evanescence along with that of everything in the universe.

As a saboteur, the taste of fear though momentarily thrilling and rousing will never allow me to feel contentment, will always block the free flow of the essence of love, my spiritual essence. It will always isolate me, remove me from now and here so that I am likely to miss the show entirely. I will become marooned in my archives, dependent on my storehouse, and unable to embody the love that I was endowed with. I will never trust and will live outside the theatre of all life on the wet streets, unable to believe even in the blue ether.

Which will you choose?

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This is the final post of this series ‘Temple Chronicle’ for the whole month of February 2016. Each daily entry will be combined into a single continuous document entitled ‘Temple Chronicle: February 2016’ to be stored in the main menu of the site should you want to look back at them.
It is snowing intermittently here in western Japan as the winter austerities come to an end. Spring will be welcomed on 20th March and the year ahead looks bright when viewed from the very centre of the moment in this very spot on the Earth’s crust.

May you have determined exactly what kind of light will you become for the year ahead.

Temple Chronicle: 21st February

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Our human lives are a process, a means whereby, but what is the result, the end-product? Our story began with the moment of birth and it will end with the moment of death. Between these two points our physical form develops and matures, and then as its season draws to a close, it starts to shrink and slow. We, our spirits, are temporarily housed in a flesh form to participate in the visual material world which is subject to varied and numerous conditions. It is logical then that the conditioned mind expects results from the progress through the years of our lifespan.

Religions use certain terms for this end-product, this resolution of the years and the effort – Heaven or Hell, Nirvana, Enlightenment, Paradise, Zion, Avalon, Swarga, Valhalla, and so on. But words and images die the moment they appear or are uttered or thought. ‘Birth’ and ‘Death’ are also only words, but we identify ourselves with them – ‘my birth,’ ‘his death,’ and so on, and once again they are dead, in the past, dropped like a heavy stone into a deep pool.

Without using any special labels or grand proper nouns, we have always flowed in the vast wide river of all energy, and we always will. Energy is vibration and light which is subject to no conditions, not even human’s facile ‘time’ or ‘space.’ It goes where it will dependent on nothing, consuming the darkness, flowing and flowing. There are no rewards or results in any dimension except the joy of being and loving with company in our human boats, and breathing in concert.

The conditions throw up obstacles in the way of our flow which create detours, sluggish pools, and rapids. The build up of the heat of negative emotions and violence acted out in the form world, the jarring of separations and limitations, the tattering and fraying of the fabric of the universe at our human hands, causes drought and the flow dwindles to a trickle, or floods which extinguish the divine flame of the flow.

Can you desist from throwing obstacles into the flow now and here? Can you give up your addiction to collecting, to hoarding, to getting and spending, to violent acts of separation from your fellows? Can you say you will no longer depend on creating parallel worlds in your mind with words and images so that you can just flow and flow, laughing and loving? Slap bang in the centre of this moment and in no place in particular, can you accept that there is nothing you have to do except be, and in your full being the flow flows without end?

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Temple Chronicle: 18th February

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When someone you thought was so close to you dies, you will see it as a desertion because you are attached, in some way reliant, leaning on them. They have seemingly aborted their journey by your side, breaking their contract. Naturally, there are moments of aching loneliness and the glaring need to make changes, to adapt to a new style of life in their absence. There is also the profound shock that the object of your love, and perhaps your entire life, has vanished forever, perhaps suddenly.

We can easily project our feelings of need or possession on to others, contaminating them, forcing them to feel guilt if we do not get our own way, or if they do not feel or act the way we expect them to. And so, in the name of ‘love,’ we pressurize the people around us exactly so that we can get our own way, and use fixative from the mind to make love permanent. This manipulation is not ‘love.’ It leaves others with no choice but to wear masks, to be dishonest, to spare our feelings, and ultimately under the duress of these acts of violence and separation, they cannot bring out their true nature. This creates something unnatural, a museum piece, a stagnant pool, a plastic flower.

Divine love, the energy or force of our essence as humans, flows like light going wherever it can, indiscriminately. Its focus is as wide as the horizon, and it is not bound by likes or dislikes, by fads or fashions. When we embody love we know there is no choice and that the energy of our loved one is required to be combined with ours for a universal invisible purpose. The love embodiment of others will find us if we remain open, unprotected, standing always in the full flow.

Love is like the weather or the perpetual blue sky behind clouds. The conditioned mind has no power to change it because it is limitless, way beyond the visual aids of ‘time’ and ‘space.’

A beloved husband drowns while swimming in the ocean with his wife. She eventually finds his body along the beach. There are sparkling grains of sand on his lips, and that is what she remembers most of the last sight of him. She grieves, haunted by their significant moments together during a lifetime, but gradually she picks up her life and continues on with a strong sense that her love for him will never end. Then one day after she has healed, she visits his favourite local art gallery and there, walking towards her, she sees him. She wants to look more closely, but he is wearing a hat obscuring his face, and he quickly leaves, so she follows him, and presents herself in his art class.

Looking directly into his eyes, ravaged by his voice, she collapses with the shock of this appearance, and he is predictably bewildered by her reaction. She is certain he has come back to her exactly so that she can love him without fixing him in stone, without turning him into an object, and by letting his true nature run free.

Soon he dies, for a second time, and she receives a memorial card inviting her to his final exhibition consisting of all the paintings he did once they were together though briefly. And there, he has captured her swimming fearlessly full in the flow, and the painting sets her true nature free at once.

At last, they are both embodied in their love and breathe together as one eternally.

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Temple Chronicle: 15th February

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Hindu deities are fashioned out of mud exactly so that there is no danger of them or the spirits behind them becoming permanent. Tibetan Buddhists make the most exquisite mandalas out of coloured sand outdoors and then walk away abandoning their delicacy to the weather. Japanese Buddhists copy sutras and prayers on to parchment and hang them from trees or bury them to welcome future Buddhas millions of years in the future. Indigenous people place their dead on high platforms or in the upper limbs of trees so that the weather and creatures can clean the flesh from their bones. There is no clinging in these acts. There is nothing to be saved and stored away.

If we can live in this way, avoiding sticking to anything, avoiding the heat of static, then we can find happiness in everything, every moment. Our emotions may flare up – anger, hatred, envy – but we can just walk away from the hot flames. Turn away our faces from such violent heat, and walk away from the site realizing that nothing can be accomplished by projecting these distortions on to other targets. Emotions spark a fire in the mind which burns others. We must ask ourselves if we truly want to be responsible for burning and mutilating other humans.

Everything except our loving kindness and our unique energy is impermanent. This human life as tenants flows on towards the great ocean of Nirvana. Our best contribution is to join the flow and shower our loving kindness on all our fellow bathers.

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Temple Chronicle: 14th February

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Objectivity or conscious awareness necessarily creates a division or separation because objects need a subject to perceive or be aware of them. The perceiver and the perceived. The aspiration and the aspirer. The lover and the beloved. To avoid the necessity for this duality, we must go beyond all craving and clinging, even for and to deities and gods. We should even let the gleaming sacred images of the Buddha and of the King of Suffering, Jesus Christ, fall so that others can use them as we have. If our hands are full of images and gods how can we hold compassion and heal others from our unique nature?

Guilt. Compulsion. External obligations. Fear. The conditioned mind will throw these spanners into the spokes of our wheels to distract us. But our wheels need to spin naturally without sticking so we can freewheel down the eternal hill of true freedom. We need to let nothing and no-one interfere with our absolute sincerity to ourselves, and it is our wheel which is designed to turn eternally, so nobody else can initiate the spin.

All around there are people separated from others and from themselves. Their wheels cannot continue to spin because they interfere with what is natural. The practitioner says she is desperate because she cannot practice the teachings. ‘Practice’ and ‘Performance.’ ‘Practitioner’ and ‘practice.’ ‘Practice’ of the ‘Buddhist teachings.’ My ‘practice’ is superior to her ‘practice.’ We can find so many dualities here. Employing and becoming attached to these words prescribed by religionists is adding many and various cogs and electrical devices to our already perfect natural wheel.

Another ‘disciple’ clings to my hand and tells me how she envies my western mind, yearning for my culture and white skin. This lack of acceptance of her personal reality and mission has rusted and broken her wheel. There is no contentment even while taking full refuge in the Buddha. How then can others take refuge in her?

The few freely spinning wheels are of those who suffer and have recovered from death. Only in this extreme of physical extinguishing can some allow their wheels to spin. They are no longer afraid or dishonest because they have faced reality full on.

Akira speaks with difficulty, his eyes moving slowly, and as he searches for the foggy words he turns away to reveal long white scars down his neck from two of the 8 surgical operations he needed to allow him to be revived and restored. Now in his second year of daily rehabilitation, he has no roles in life except as an invalid, and this he embraces. He is his broken self, and he is the patches which have put him back together. He is not separate from his condition, and in that oneness he freewheels. He is content to be the misfortune which has uprooted the smooth passage of his young life. There is no barb of blame in sight.

Only when we go beyond all expectations and hopes, any and all fixed ideas, will our wheels spin freely. Only when we let go of the permanence of the physical and material form, of beginnings and ends, will we find contentment and the unimpaired flight of our true mission.

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Temple Chronicle: 13th February

purity

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.

Our daily moments are spent by choice 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. We may induce it though with a soothing substance, with anesthetic, or instead, bury our dreams and honesty with ourselves and let a trespasser deal with the danger.

If we do not have a stable core, a beautiful background to 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 constrictions of society and our communities have snuffed out our inner light, the connection with our true nature. We are inhabiting our physical form, but our spiritual essence is lying stagnant. 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 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 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 towards the negativity and challenges that we encounter, not try to escape from them. Only fear makes us resist, but fear is only a tactic of the conditioned mind to make us turn away. Turning towards? Turning away? It’s our choice.

If we turn towards our suffering, if we go 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 tells us that fully facing a difficult relationship which we shy away from is exactly how will find our way back to our stable core. 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. We are neither separate nor exempt in reality.

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