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.

Temple Chronicle: 27th February

reality

Our human lives may bounce around on an unpredictable ocean – our emotional responses to the incidents and occurrences in daily life combined with our karma, both bad and good, and the emotions of others around us also creating incidents and occurrences, and their karma. We never know how the weather will change and we are rarely prepared for its storms or for the becalming or sea fog. We are not in control because we allow external circumstances to control us. This is the conditioned mind, reacting and forcing responses, compulsive, not content, and it seems that there is nothing behind that unrelenting action and respite, action-respite. So we become afraid to look. In the end, we blame and protest and perhaps even try to resign from life. Our happiness seems as short-lived as a warm sunny day when there is no trace of a cloud in the sky.

This drama of our life is a like a fast-moving dream which we think we can only stop by waking up. But we never wake up from it because we have allowed it to become our reality, our view, our way of seeing and being. The only way we can wake up is by taking control and changing the way we see everything: in other words, by investing in our neglected ship and its equipment, especially the sails, instead of the ocean and the weather.

The first step in that process is quelling the continual dialogue perpetuated by the media and perhaps by people around you. You need your own vacuum of silence and stillness so that you can truly look inside. You need to appreciate yourself, and examine your sincerity with yourself because the revealing of your original core, which has been temporarily submerged, depends on that entirely.

Honesty expresses honour and virtue. If we are dishonest with ourselves our core becomes unstable. Honesty wakes us and others with its strong scent. It will allow your divine flame to burn more brightly, and then you can go forward and enjoy restoring your ship, repairing or replacing its sails, making new ropes, scrubbing the deck, and pumping out the bilges.

When you set sail on life again you can deal with any kind of extreme because you are equipped. Your core is stable and glowing, the weather is always tolerable and you accept its changeability without flinching; your ship is somehow part of the ocean now.

And then you wake up from the terrible dream forever and move on to the next phase of the restoration of your core.

human potential 2

 

 

Thank you dear followers. This series of posts will have lasted for the entire month of February. It represents Buddhist Winter Austerities and spiritual training in Japan, a time to cultivate wisdom, and I have learned so much from the discipline of writing everyday for you. I apologize if I have swamped you with posts, but I hope that you can allow at least some of the notions to work for you in everyday life. Future posts will be intermittent.
May you be truly and enduringly happy for all of your days immersed in the vast ever-changing ocean of energy.