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

by Rev. Koshin Schomberg

Section XXIX

When you have practiced sitting meditation for a long time and have come to know the Place of Compassion, suddenly you will perceive the moon of the Buddha Nature in the earth of body and mind. The Heavenly Wind will sweep through your body, dispersing all worldly care, and you will look down upon the deep Ocean of the Great Immaculacy, which is pure and clear and without shadow or dust. On Its surface, innumerable fine ripples flow very quietly--the karmic streams of beings, separate from one another and yet all contained within the one Ocean.


Depth and Concentration

"Life is full of suffering": this is the classic way of expressing the Buddha's First Noble Truth. Here is another way: "Worldly life can never satisfy the deepest longing of the heart."

What is "worldly life?"--It is life lived at a superficial level; it is life lived in preoccupation with external things, external relations; it is life stuck in the opposites--joy and sadness, love and hate, gain and loss, honor and dishonor, pleasure and pain.

Life itself is not at fault if we choose to ignore its depths and continue to wander in confusion on its surface. There is That within us that knows that the deeper waters are there. It will lead us into those depths if we will but trust It and follow It.

If we would venture into those depths, we must concentrate our mind in meditation. This is easier said than done. In order to do it successfully, we must train in accordance with a basic principle of the Middle Path: Make a gentle and steady effort, avoiding the two extremes of sloth and excessive zeal.

A scattered mind leaps from ripple to ripple on the surface of the Ocean of life--always on the surface. Right concentration in meditation allows us to stop leaping around. It is as if we put our hands and feet together and drop straight down vertically--down into stillness, down into the Place of Compassion.

Choosing Reality

Rev. Master sometimes pointed out that the Eternal has already chosen us; it is up to us whether we will choose the Eternal. In other words, we are offered the opportunity to venture into Life's depths, but it is not forced upon us: we have to choose to go--or not to go.

In fact, we have to choose again and again. Genuine meditation is always a venturing into the unknown. However far one may have ventured yesterday, the venturing of today is a new venturing. Continuing venturing leaves no room for spiritual complacency.

The surface of life is always there, and it provides plenty of reminders why it is so important to venture into the depths. But reminders also come from the deeper waters--the beckoning of the Eternal to draw closer to Itself.

We do not have to settle for second best spiritually. The deepest longing of the heart is within each of us. When we experience this longing in its full purity, we know it as a flame of longing love of indescribable power and majesty. Then we know why worldly life can never satisfy the deepest longing of the heart: it is because this longing love is of and for the Eternal.

Letting Go

The Eternal has chosen us, yet, due to the dark karma of self-judgment, we may be blind to this wonderful fact. More surprising perhaps is the fact that we can choose the Eternal and yet still be mostly unaware that this is what we are doing. Many, many times Rev. Master told disciples who were struggling with self-doubt, "You are still here [in the monastery]." By this she meant that the trainees were choosing to continue on in training regardless of the clouds of confusion that sometimes swirled through their heads, and that this is what really mattered.

We tend to think that the hard things to let go of are material comforts and human consolation. Actually, the really hard thing to let go of is our own judgment of ourself. How can we do this?--By going again and again to the Place of Compassion within ourselves in pure meditation, and in that Place offering all we are and have into the hands of the Eternal. Buddhism is a religion, and this is the quintessential religious act.


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