HOW TO GROW A LOTUS BLOSSOM: Reflections in a Disciple's Life

by Rev. Koshin Schomberg

Section VIII
The Promise

Do not follow thoughts of things that have already passed; do not welcome thoughts of things that are still to come; and do not cherish thoughts of things that concern right now. There is no better way to the Truth than to defend the pure and increase the clear. You must wish to renounce the world--then the merit of meditation has no equal.


Deeper Implications of Discipleship

While my master's death did not come as a shock, it was nonetheless a great catalyst in my spiritual life. I think I can best characterize the year and a half that followed my master's death as a time during which the deeper implications of my discipleship began to dawn within me. Many years later, I still have a sense of wonder at the compassion of the process that I was undergoing--a process of which I was mostly unaware in its early stages.

Having been a monk most of my life, I was used to experiencing unusual physical, mental and emotional phenomena. I have always trusted that only good can come of meditating and training, even if difficulty and pain are encountered along the way. And so when I began to be aware several months after Rev. Master's death that my brain was shutting off now and then for very short periods of time, I was not worried. When it happened, it was somewhat like going to sleep for a fraction of a second. But it was different from going to sleep in a way that I cannot describe. I do not think that it happened more when I was tired than when I was not.

I now know that these occasional episodes of brain shut-off were leading to a much more prolonged shutting off of the brain that I will describe in Section IX of these "Reflections in a Disciple's Life." For those who encounter this phenomenon, I strongly recommend listening to and following your spiritual intuition about what is good to do--or not good to do. In the summer of 1997, seven or eight months after Rev. Master's death, I had an accident in the temple pickup because I was driving and my brain shut off. Fortunately, no other vehicle was involved and no one was hurt, but it was a very close call and the truck was wrecked. The truck was overdue for permanent retirement anyway, but there are more responsible ways to dispose of an old vehicle than wrecking it on the freeway.

Before I set out, I was given a very clear intuitive warning that I should not drive that day. I ignored the warning. The lesson that I draw from this experience is that I need to obey the Eternal when the Eternal sends me a clear message. If Rev. Master had been alive and had told me not to drive that morning, I would have obeyed her. Rev. Master always taught, "The master is not the Eternal, and the master represents the Eternal for the disciple." Well, now my human master was dead. The question right in front of me was, "Are you going to listen to, and follow, the Eternal the way you learned to listen to, and follow, your human master?" This was what I longed to do. And I needed help.

Preparing the Ground

In September, 1997, ten months after Rev. Master's death, I was again drawn into retreat for about six weeks. Here are some excerpts from a diary that I kept during this retreat. The excerpts are not in order by date:

The past week and a half has been the deepest self-examination of my life motivated by my need to know within myself how I am to fulfill the responsibility of my discipleship to Rev. Master and to the Unborn--how I am to be true to this discipleship.

In a dream I was sitting close to Rev. Master. Rev. Master said to me that one day there will be a whole garden of flowers growing above the head where first there is one lotus blossom. She said that one must help others walk in that garden. She said that the important thing is the bringing together of our karma and the Buddha Nature.

I pray that I may always warm myself at the radiant sun of the Unborn. However dark and gloomy it may become, I can withdraw within and warm myself at the burner [of the hara] within which glow the embers of that Love beyond comprehension.

I feel that I made an implicit promise to Rev. Master that I would train in a particular direction in this lifetime. The direction is that of the re-harmonization of my karma with the Eternal. I must always ask for help in doing this.

This retreat prepared the spiritual ground for the much longer retreat into which I was catapulted in the spring of 1998. In these excerpts from my diary I see a very sincere and very powerful wish to realize the promise inherent in true discipleship. I had no idea when I wrote these entries in my diary of the intensity and majestic scale of the experience that was now hovering on the horizon. A sincere prayer is always heard and answered. A sincere wish is a sincere prayer.


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