Calling All Bodhisattva’s
To know one’s “intention” is vital for any healthy spiritual practice. To live with “integrity” is quintessential. Intention without integrity has no value. We need to know our truest intention and then live intentionally with integrity. Webster defines “integrity” as “a strict adherence to a particular way of being.” When I live with integrity my intention is reflected in all my choices, in every decision I make. It reflects in every word I speak, every action I commit.
A “person of integrity” is reliable, their word is their bond, their actions reflect who they are, you always know where they are coming from. I believe that integrity coalesces vision with action; it creates for sustainable and fulfilling relationship. There is a saying in Zen, “Even if the Sun were to rise in the West, the Bodhisattva knows one way.” No matter the circumstance, no matter the situation, no matter how I may feel at this moment, and even what I think, my integrity is my guide, my code for living my life, the cause for the effects or the results I aspire to create. I often say, “There are days when I must muster up a whole universe of compassion for some people I may encounter. And I do.”
The individual parts of any formula equals its sum total. Everything has a cause, and it is the cause which produces the results (effect). Nothing happens apart from cause. Every result is the sum total of the individual parts of the cause. Therefore everything in life matters; my thoughts, my words, my actions, matter. The ancient masters would say, “A day of lying and pilfering meditation will not cure.” Authentic Spirituality, Zen, is a holistic way of living in the world. When I got out of bed this morning I heard “the Han” calling me to the Zendo. When I encountered the mess my cats had waiting for me in the hallway at 3:00 AM, I heard the small bell (inking) marking the beginning of silence; when I entered the ice cold Zendo to start the fire for Early Dawn Meditation & Prayers, my thoughts were of the homeless and my Native American brothers and sisters and the Veterans in Dakota. Intentional Integrity, Authentic Spirituality, connects our minds and our hearts with the Universe and all Its parts, it connects us consciously with other. My life is made up of my thoughts, the words I speak, and the actions I commit; my integrity dictates that each of those parts reflect my intention, which is to live what Buddhist call “The Noble Life”. For me to live this life is Life. Life is not just the breath I breathe, but also how I breathe and the intention behind each breath. Breath is Life, therefore, “May every breath I breathe carry with it my intention to live with awareness, compassion, and love.”
I am convinced that in the days ahead what will be required to meet the challenges and to “fight the good fight” with a deeper and more profound purpose for “being spiritual” or “living spiritually” in the world than just meditating and going to yoga classes to feel better. It will have to be connected to a “purpose larger than our individual lives,” “our self”. Each of us without exception must become a “Force of Nature,” a “Spiritual Warrior,” and be prepared to fight the good fight against “greed, hatred, and indifference” we find in ourselves, our homes, our neighborhoods, the Nation and the World. We will need to get serious about living simpler lives, reducing the burden which debt and the consumption of things and experiences, the maintenance of which, distract us from “meditating regularly” which we never have “enough time for”; having real conversations with each other, taking walks in the forest, feeling the wind, the rain, and another persons heart. We need to inventory our priorities, and what we invest our thoughts, energy, and emotions in, which often drains us of our vitality and inherent quietude; required in order to hear the voices of our loved ones, and to see what is really needed in our relationships. We are rarely present in our relationships with either the people in our life or the natural world, because our current priorities are always calling us away to something in the future. “There is nowhere to go and no-one to be,” just now, just this. Take care of “now,” take care of “this,” and the future will take care of itself. As a Father of a seven year old daughter whom I adore, whenever I find myself thinking, “God she’s growing fast,” my next thought is, “I better slow down.”
Do not underestimate the gravity of the challenges ahead. I am convinced they will be greater and more urgent. They will require each of us, seasoned students or beginners, to change what needs to be changed in our lives, to engage what we have put off regularly up until now, and to make sacrifices of our time, energy, and resources, toward creating a sustainable humanity and to bring to fruition those causes which produce the results of a more “enlightened society”.
In 1961 President John F. Kennedy challenged the Nation to, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” It is time for every one of us to meet that challenge not only for our country but for the world. We can no longer continue to delude ourselves by believing that our institutions, government representatives, systems of government, and other centuries old, ways of doing it, will be adequate to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. They have failed us and will by nature continue to. Einstein once wrote, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Change is the vital force of life. If you want anything to change, you have to change the way you’ve been doing it up and until now. Science teaches us that if we stop changing we are destined to die. Einstein also wrote that, “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” The current national and global events are not the end of the discussion, they never are. They are only the beginning. They present us with challenges which present us with opportunity. Indeed what lies ahead of us is not then end of the old, but the beginning of the possibility for something entirely new. Something made of our dreams, of our imagination. George Bernard Shaw wrote, “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream of things that never were and say, why not.” The Japanese say, “More importantly than the right answer is, the right question.”
Dream on, but this time to fruition.
I love you,