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April 3, 2018

Cloudy Skies

by Seijaku Roshi

Lately I have felt like I have been living under and endless stream of clouds. Winter has certainly taken its toll. But clouds unlike the light which shines behind them, are impermanent, no matter how long they may linger. But more importantly they are deceptive, and when we look up and only see cloudy skies, we must keep looking until we see the whole truth. The Sun does not go up or down, in or out, it is always shining, always bright, always in its appropriate place in the Universe. The light is never dispelled, only hidden at times by obstructions both natural and manmade. No matter what direction we look, if our vision is big enough, wide enough, high enough, we must and we will eventually, discover the light.

We need eyes that see the light even in the darkness. Darkness is just another delusion, always hiding what’s next from us. Always the darkest before the light shines through the darkness at dawn. No matter how long, no matter how dark, what has always followed is the dawn of a new day, the light shining even in the darkest moments of our lives.

We humans are so easily distracted. Distracted by the things which are always of the nature of impermanence. We chase impermanency, we serve it. Perhaps that is why we cannot feel the permanence of life vibrating within us and all around us. Whether it be a moment of discomfort, an unexpected set of circumstances disappointing us, a passing thought (there is no other kind), or feeling, emotion, opinion, and all the rest, we chase one distraction after another. We wake up in the morning only because our sleep has been distracted by some other sensation. The moment is distracted by the past or the future. Hello is distracted by some sense of tomorrow. Love by hate; I love you by, “I have to go,” happiness by sadness, and so on and so on. Perhaps that is why death, more natural and sewn into the fabric of life than anything, is so surprising when it arrives, because our whole life up to that moment has been distracted.

Central to Zen meditation and what our culture has come to identify as “mindfulness,” is training ourselves to “not be distracted”. In Zen this “training” takes place both on the cushion and off. It is not some temporary “distraction” from the rest of lives whenever we take to the meditation cushion or come back to our breath after being distracted away from our lives. Zen Training is a “way of living” your life whereby the power of being distracted is minimized, a “way of being” in your life fully involved in each and every moment. Neither is Zen Training a supplement for living your life. It’s not something you do because you feel distracted, dissatisfied, unfulfilled. It may be why you finally stop being distracted and come to it, but as I often tell my students, “Your ego got you here but, it will not keep you here.”

Authentic Spirituality begins with “renunciation,” without which transformation, renewal, rebirth, is not possible. We cannot expect to see beyond the clouds with the same eyes which only see clouds. The only solution for real change in one’s life is change. Change begets change. There is no other way. Change is only possible when we make “changing” our first priority, our only priority. But you see the problem is, we like to be distracted, especially from our unfulfilled lives. In order for real change to take root and produce fruit, we need to take root in the life we have, here and now, in order to see what we need to see, in order to change what we need to change. We can’t just change this and not that. Transformation, is wholistic. If the butterfly tries to keep any part of the caterpillar, it will never fly. The other thing you need to know is that the transformation of the caterpillar is not dependent on whether or not the caterpillar is ready. Nature waits for no one. If it isn’t ready to change, it dies. “The Spirit cares only about flying, as to who flies, it has but a passing interest.”

So on this you can rely, the Sun is always shining, the Way is clear, the Path has been blazed, the Destination has been guaranteed. All that is ever really missing in any given moment, in any hour of your life, is – You. So the only question that matters is, “Shall we begin?” The only answer that works is – “Yes!”

I Love You,

Seijaku Roshi

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