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November 12, 2020

Nothing To Attain

by Seijaku Roshi

“Not going, Not Coming
Rooted Deep and Still
Not Reaching Out
Not Reaching In
Just Resting at The Center
A Single Jewel
The Flawless Crystal Drop
In the Blaze of Its Brilliance
The Way Beyond”

— Shih Te —

“I would like to give you something, But what would help?”
— Ikkyu, Fifteenth Century Zen Master —

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion.” Is the “present moment” here — now? Is the “present moment” over there — then? Do we need to go to the mountain? Do we need to go anywhere in particular? Do we need to be here, in this place right where we are?

The True Way is more Mystery than we would like to admit. Left with our own thoughts, “We’d never admit it.” The “Here and Now” is neither a “place” or “time”. It is neither “here” or “there”. If so, and it is so, then what is this “Present Moment, the only time over which we have dominion?”

People say we are living in uncertain times, for most it feels like we are living in uncharted waters. But was there ever a time this was not so? I don’t think so. Zen Master Ikkyu asks, “What would help?” His koan challenges us to enter into The True Way, where life is what it really is — Uncertain and Hopeless. Where “Living Spiritually” is what it truly is — “Not going, Not Coming. Rooted Deep and Still. Not Reaching Out, Not Reaching In…”

What is evident, and we cannot deny this if we have the courage to look — is that we live in, and have for centuries lived in, a “consumer oriented” culture and society. We do nothing unless there is something in it for us, including “Living Spiritually”. Yet, there is no evidence that this is The True Way. In fact the opposite proves to be The True Way.
Once again Ikkyu says to us, “We’re lost where the mind can’t find us, utterly lost.” Our coming and going, our reaching out and reaching in, has taken us to where we find ourselves today — certainly feeling at least — “utterly lost”.

The True Way neither “reaches out” or “reaches in”. It does not “reach out” and go searching for the solution to our discontentment in the world of people, places, and things. Neither does it “reach in” for the solution to our discontentment, in the world of our thoughts about, the world of people, places, and things — “Just Resting at The Center, A Single Jewel — The Flawless Crystal Drop, In the Blaze of Its Brilliance —The Way Beyond.”

When all “thinking about life” ceases or, when we cultivate a deeper awareness of how our thinking so informs our experience and not the people, places, and things, this is when and this how we — “Have Dominion.” “Just Resting at The Center,” just breathing in, just breathing out, just taking care of business, we find the “Single Jewel —The Flawless Crystal Drop, In the Blaze of Its Brilliance…” We find we are able to Live; to Love, free of what leaves us utterly lost in our thoughts and our emotions — where True—Mind, True—Self, Original—Self, “cannot find us”.

The True Way is truly — “The Way Beyond”. Beyond all our thinking about life, beyond all our efforts, our coming and going, to find the solution to our discontentment. The “hopelessness” Ikkyu points to, ceases, when we stop coming and going. When we finally “drop anchor” and “just take care of business”. What business? We can begin with, we must begin with, “Just Loving Ourselves,” practicing “Self-Compassion”. Without needing or wanting any proof or reason why to, “Just Love Our—Self”. When there is nothing to gain from it, no reason to do it, then we will know who we truly are for “Love” is the ground for Self-Discovery. We cannot and will not ever discover who we truly are, or for that matter, who other truly is, until we step out of this “consumer oriented” approach. When there is “Nothing to Gain,” then there is “Everything to Gain”. Once we have committed to Self-Compassion, we then extend to everyone we meet, everywhere we go.

In meditation, contemplation, and benevolent service, the Three Pillars of Living Spiritually, one seeks to gain nothing. There is a “natural” increase in contentment and peace of mind. When we look closely at what it really means to “live spiritually,” “What have you gained?”, the answer would be: “It is not what I have gained that is important but rather what I have diminished, namely, Greed, Hatred, and Delusion.” Then, suddenly, “A Single Jewel, The Flawless Crystal Drop — In the Blaze of Its Brilliance.”

If we are ever going to eliminate our fear of “uncertainty and hopelessness,” which informs our experience and every choice and decision we make, we cannot continue to do it the way we have done it up and until now. Einstein wrote, “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.” We need a new approach, an ancient approach, where the solution to our problems have already been resolved.

Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine Nun, calls us to, “Make an unflinching commitment to act with Integrity — out of the fullness of our being — not simply our pragmatic, comfortable, or fearful selves.” The dictionary’s definition for “integrity” is, “A strict adherence to a particular way-of-being.” To live with integrity is to live with uncertainty, hopelessness, and fear, and to live “Upright, with Courage and Audacity.” To say what we mean, and to mean what we say. Our “yes” is really “yes,” our “no” is really “no” and — our Love is Really Unconditional. To be reliable, faithful, and trustworthy. To show up, not just “intending” or “promising” to show up — to really “show up”. To be driven by a commitment to “something larger than ourselves,” rather than just “our pragmatic, comfortable, or fearful selves.” To be, “A force in Nature, rather than just a clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world is not devoting itself to making me happy.”

Our World is not going to change just by the actions of a few. This time it’s going to take all of us. This time it’s going to take a “community”. We Are More Together Than Alone — each of us with our own unique talent and inherent capability to meet the current and future challenges, bringing to the whole our — “Piece of Ourselves” to complete the whole.

I believe what Zen masters have been predicting for centuries — the next Buddha or Messiah will have the name of “Maitreya”. Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will appear on Earth in the future, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma — The Dharma of Loving-Kindness, Infinite Compassion, and Benevolent Service. Maitreya, will not appear in the form of a person, but as “Community”. The Buddha, Shakyamuni, predicted that the next Buddha would be Maitreya, the Buddha of love. We desperately need love. We Desperately Need You!

I Love You,
Seijaku Roshi

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