by Rev. Koshin Schomberg

Chapter 8
The Essential Choice

Faith and trust in That Which Is, the Lord of the House, are absolutely essential in this place.

Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett, How to Grow a Lotus Blossom (Plates V-IX [the passage from which this is taken is not included in the first edition])

Can It Really Be That Simple?

We can choose despair, or we can choose the Eternal.

It is never a good idea to look down spiritually, for to do so is to spiral into despair.

Throughout these Reflections, I have strongly emphasized the importance of looking up spiritually. To look up is to choose the Eternal.

There are times when life itself--sometimes even the direction that a karmic stream will take for lifetimes--depends upon whether a being looks up or down.--Yes, it really can be that simple.

The Conscious Choice

For many beings, the simple and stark choice between despair and the Eternal is clouded by confusion, self-doubt, self-hatred, self-judgment, desire and fear. When beings thrash around in the midst of such spiritual darkness and act on the basis of greed, hate and delusion, there is an outflowing of suffering.

Yet at any point, a being can awaken to the essential nature of the choices being made, and in that moment of insight choose to look up. This can initiate a great return-flowing--the redirection of all the elements of body and mind back toward the Eternal.

Throughout our life, there is That within each of us that calls us back to Itself. Its call is the call of an Infinite Love; Its beckoning is the offering of Life that is undying.

How to Grow a Lotus Blossom shows how a single human being responded to that call in the midst of a great spiritual darkness. The first chapters of How to Grow a Lotus Blossom show Rev. Master meditating upon the nature of the choice with which she was faced, and then making the choice to follow the Eternal and leave despair behind. For her, this choice was a fully conscious choice, duly deliberated upon and made with utter resolution.

If one human being can make this choice in such a fully conscious and determined way, so can others. If one person can choose the Eternal, so can others. If Rev. Master did this, so can I and so can you.

Religion's Origin

The greatest good that religion can offer suffering humanity originates in a single human being's choice to hold fast to the Eternal rather than succumb to despair. And religion must be renewed at this font if it is to avoid sinking into irrelevance.

Genuine religion is deeply disturbing to human complacency. It does not offer guarantees that external circumstances will conform to our desires, nor does it pretend that the human brain can comprehend the Infinite. Genuine religion constantly reiterates a simple truth: there is That which is greater than oneself, and it is possible to take refuge directly in It. Therefore, contemplative prayer--true meditation--lies at the heart of all religion.

Divorced from their origin in the individual's choice to follow the Eternal rather than succumb to despair, religious doctrines, practices and organizational forms turn into "grey religion"--the shadow of genuine religion. There is no real refuge in a shadow. Therefore, every Buddha and every Ancestor returned to the Source in silent meditation and allowed the worry about external things to fall away.


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