For Your Consideration….
June 14, 2016
Seijaku Roshi’s Meditation
“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
– The Talmud
Once again like millions my heart broke at the news of another mass shooting, senseless, without mercy, hateful. I immediately began contacting old friends who I thought were potential victims. Thank you God they weren’t. Dear God what about those who were? What about those who could be in the future? What about my daughter? What about the children? Why?
I do not know the solutions to ending the plague of terrorism and war in our world and I do not want to pretend that I do. I do know my heart hurts more and more for the victims of this madness; I am fearful for my daughter and her little friends, I want her Mom not to take her to the shore in a couple of weeks. I had second thoughts about taking her and her new BFF to see TMNT at the Marlton 8 yesterday. I’m a parent and the suffering of the world becomes more crisp for me everyday, I feel it in my bones, running through my veins. It’s not over there, it’s right here. What’s a “parent-monk” to do?
The words of The Talmud resonate for me. As a person who has dedicated his life to the principles of love, kindness, and compassion; the principles of justice for all, equality, mercy, all the while working at walking humbly, I have always felt, “Obligated to complete the work,” and I cannot find it within me even though I am tempted at times, to “abandon it”.
Several weeks ago a dear of friend of mine while at lunch together reminded me, “We (monks or nuns) are not to be absorbed by the world.” Like the words of The Talmud, “We are not to be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief,” though I have heard these words thousands of times when I hear them now they resonate within me as if I read them for the first time. I cannot change the world, I cannot change what history has already written, I can only change myself, I can only augment the lessons I have learned and apply in my life and my relationships with other sentient beings what I deeply, deeply, hold to be true.
I’ve been working on “patience” lately. Even a monk must endlessly work on patience, especially if that monk is the parent of a seven year old. The day after hearing about the mass shooting in Orlando FL, early that morning after my early dawn meditation, I contemplated on my lack of patience recently with my daughter. I was resolved that what I could do for the “enormity of the world’s grief” was to improve my awareness and my compassion for her limitations defined by her very short tenure so far in this lifetime, and not to expect too much of a “seven year old.” Patience is the Third Perfection in the Buddha-way. It is more than just a virtue, it is a force of nature, a context for change and a means of seeing what our “impatience” will not permit us to see. Our impatience limits the potential of what we see and defines what we are permitted to see. When I practice patience with my daughter I am cultivating within me the energy to slow down and listen, see all that is really there, and then act. When I perfect patience in my life I am able to see what is really needed in the world and then I can be a force for the changes needed in the world. Otherwise all I am is, “A little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that (my daughter) the world is not committing itself to making me happy.”
Whatever I do in small matters I will also do in larger matters. Whatever I do over in this part of my life, I will do in all parts of my life. Likewise how I live my small life effects the larger life of the world and other sentient beings. The lessons I teach my daughter now will effect the world now and long after I am gone while she is still here interacting and effecting the world by her actions born of her life lessons.
Never underestimate the power you hold in your thoughts, your words, or your actions. There is a saying, “All the Gods, all the Buddhas, all the Heavens and all the Hells of the world are within you.” Heaven or hell on earth is up to you, up to all of us. Where I meet my daughter everyday I am with her, whether or not I meet her where she is, and bring the patience required to understand her experience and point of view of herself and the world around her; whether or not my words and actions teach her self-confidence, self-worth, and love will have lasting effect in her life and the world she will live in long after I am gone.
When you truly understand this, then, the “World’s Grief” is your Teacher and “Doing Justice, Now; Loving Mercy, Now; Walking Humbly, Now” is “The Way” and you can “Complete the Work” and you are “Never Free to Abandon It.”
I Love You,