Thursday, June 2, 2011

Taking Refuge

When I came down for afternoon zazen yesterday, I found a card on my desk, written by someone who doesn't live here and is quite new to practice. It said:
"After reading your blogpost this morning, I wished I weren't practicing buddhism so that I could say things like: all things happen for a reason (rephrasing), or, this too shall pass (avoidance), but I know better than to say things like that to the Ino. Then I thought I'd give you the advice you would give: take refuge in the sangha, but I wonder if the source of your suffering may be the very sangha in which you are supposed to take refuge. So I'm going for what (I hope) is the sure thing for you: chocolate. I hope it brings you some ease".
I haven't eaten the chocolate yet, as the whole package, and the words, were enough (this person guessed right, though). As the day went on yesterday, I articulated my feelings to people as best I could, and felt better for doing so; it is a great treasure of living here that it feels fine to say, when people ask you how you are, I'm having a really crappy time, because people will meet you with that, and in the course of a conversation, do their best to support you. Other readers of the blog guessed at the source of my distress, which saved me having to tell the story again. I felt held and cared for by many people over the course of the day.
I felt again yesterday as well, what a wonderful and radical act it is to sit upright with the chest open, when a part of you wants to curl up and protect yourself. The day ended with the dharma talk, and Kathryn, speaking mainly about her experiences as a hospital chaplain, spoke of how the essential thing is to be able to look people in the eye, when they are suffering or dying, and meet them with love, and that resonated with exactly how I have been articulating and feeling my practice at the moment, which goes beyond temporary emotional suffering and allows a deep peace and joy to be present, even as the suffering still lingers.

13 comments:

Dennis said...

Very smart person! Chocolate does solve a very great deal...

sb3day said...

Shundo- thank you for your post. I think I'm beginning to understand your earlier post about "only a buddha and a budhha." Maybe being seen gives us the strength to choose to "sit upright" and SEE our suffering.
I wonder if the suffering, like you, experiences ease when IT is seen and held. I hope so. I also hope for sunny weather and no wind on Sunday so that you can go on a bike ride.

Shundo said...

Shannon, I recommend to you Kathryn's talk, which I shall try to get online, as I don't think you were there last night, but she had some quotes which really explained what I was trying to say there, and in the previous post.
Dennis, you are so right, as always.

Melanie G, Austin Zen Center practitioner said...

I sure like you. You're a brave and good fellow.

Shundo said...

That's very kind of you to say so, Melanie, since you have never met me...

Mike said...

Peace, my friend.

Melanie G, Austin Zen Center practitioner said...

The sweetness of the new practitioner reaching out to you, your sharing vulnerable feelings online, then sharing with people face to face, is what inspired my response. I decided not to edit it, because what would be the risk in that? I think I'd still like you in person- surely.

Shundo said...

Well thank you both. I was lucky to have dokusan this morning, and also to talk with Paul at lunchtime, as things have been shifting, seemingly for the better. Support is coming from every direction, and I am very grateful for that.

Ruth said...

Hugs.

Shundo said...

Are you in your usual time zone, Ruth?

Ruth said...

Hah, mentally or physically? ;-)

Shundo said...

Well goodness, where is your mind at?
Thank you for the hugs anyway.

Ruth said...

Oh my mind has a time zone all of its own ;-) But you are always welcome to hugs.