|WHEN:||Apr 13, 2020 05:00 PM|
It is rather curious that while the world underwent a generational event, I found myself in a silent retreat for the last month. While I was remotely in touch with Corona and Karuna, :) returning home few days back, it was surreal to witness the scenes on the streets. The suffering of the world, and the subtle opportunities for newer thresholds of consciousness, were glaringly evident. We cultivate equanimity precisely so we can generate compassion in times like this.
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In parting, I offer this passage by a very senior monk, Ajahn Amaro:
Ajahn Chah would have us do periods of intensive practice, but we would still go out on alms round in the morning and there would always be work to do around the monastery. So even the times of intensive, formal practice were not so separated from life or so completely free of stimulus.
When you focus on creating a clear, subjective, interior space, then your life is built around trying to be in that space with as few distractions as possible. That space then becomes a counterpoint to the external world. Even though we might have great brightness of mind or experiences of selflessness within that space, those states exist in counterpoint to our family, our society, and the entire phenomenal and physical world. We are losing half the picture. Furthermore, our peace and happiness becomes completely dependent on conditions.
I have recently been addressing this issue through the story of the Buddha's enlightenment. During the course of the night, as the story goes, the Buddha-to-be made his vow not to get up from his seat until he was completely enlightened. The Lord of Illusion, Mara, tried to disturb his meditation with fearful and sensual images but was unsuccessful. By the end of the night, the Buddha's realization into truth was complete, but although he was fully awakened the armies of Mara were still around him.
Then Mara asked him, "What right do you think you have to claim enlightenment?" The Buddha then reached down and touched the earth, invoking the Earth Mother who appeared and said, "This is my true son and he has done everything necessary to claim complete and full enlightenment. He is the supremely awakened one." Then from her hair she produced a great flood of water which washed away the armies of Mara, who eventually returned carrying flowers and other offerings.
I think the story is saying that if our liberation is simply a subjective, mental, interior experience then we are only half-cooked. Wisdom has to reach out into the world. Even the Buddha has to make that gesture of humility and ask the earth for her blessing. In order for the armies of Mara to really be dispelled, we have to open our eyes and step out of that blissful interior space. For liberation to be finalized we have to touch the earth.
I look forward to seeing you on the call! May we all touch the earth, and awaken.