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Posts Tagged ‘Rosa Parks’

ingassho

Yuanwu writes:

. . .you must not abandon the carrying out of your bodhisattva vows.  You must be mindful of saving all beings, and steadfastly endure the attendant hardship and toil, in order to serve as a boat on the ocean of all-knowledge.  Only then will you have some accord with the Path (page 28).[1]

It is written in the Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen “Earthly bodhisattvas are persons who are distinguished from others by their compassion and altruism as well as their striving toward the attainment of enlightenment (page 24).[2]  For me there are bodhisattvas in all places, in all times, and in all beliefs from religious to ethical, social workers, teachers, nurses and more everywhere in the world.  They are in your family as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and the like.  These people are there for you regardless of your challenges and achievements.

The bodhisattva looks for every opportunity to make this life easier for others, to bring peace, love, and compassion to everyone and everything.  Most do it without fanfare, they do not desire fame and fortune, nor recognition nor reward.  They quietly and consistently provide what they can, when they can, wherever they can.

They may not have great names like: Martin Luther King, Jr, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Jonas Salk, or Abraham Lincoln.  But they are all around you. They live in your neighborhood, work next to you at your job, volunteer at the church or synagogue or mosque, or for the local food bank, Habitat for Humanity, or the animal rescue shelter. They are mowing the lawn of an elderly neighbor, shoveling the snow for a disabled veteran, they come in all colors, races, and places on earth.  And yes, they are race and color blind.

The bodhisattvas are everywhere you look, if only you see with your heart instead of your eyes, if only you listen with your soul instead of your ego you will discover them. You will remember them as your favorite teacher who challenged you and supported you and encouraged you in good times and bad.  They were your band leaders, coaches, Sunday school teachers, the police officers walking the beat in your neighborhood, the cooks in your school cafeterias, and the nurses in your doctor’s office.

Or you could be like my friend Chip. As he watched Irma, a category 5 hurricane, racing toward us he decided he needed to put hurricane shutters on nine elderly neighbor’s homes. He knew he could not do it alone so he called his best friend Jimmy Esbach who owns several halfway houses and asked him if he could hire some of his residents to help with the job.  Chip willingly did the job without charging the owners and paid the workers out of his pocket. Some never even offered him a thank you after the hurricane had passed. But he did not do it for a thank you. He did it because he saw a need and filled it as any bodhisattva would have.

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to be a bodhisattva all you must do is spend your life thinking of others before self, doing good and speaking good, and living like you are already a bodhisattva. Regardless of how hard it may seem in the moment, the bodhisattva does it anyway! Don’t worry about “attaining enlightenment” it will come of its own accord when the time is right.

Good luck with that! Let me know how it goes! Shokai

[1] Cleary J.C. and Cleary, T. (1994) Zen Letters Teachings of Yuanwu. Boston & London: Shambhala

[2] The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen (1991) Shambhala: Boston. MA

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What does it mean to be free?  There will be different connotations if you live in the middle of a war zone in the Middle East, or in a job that you feel chained to that is joyless and boring, or if you are incarcerated in a prison “behind the fence” as we say.  Then there is the prison of our minds and emotions that keep us from being free of our thoughts of lack, limitation, and ill health.

As a college professor I have seen that fear in my students eyes when they enter my developmental English class and know that they will not be free to take the “for credit courses” and earn a degree in their favorite area of study if they don’t pass my class. And yet at some time during that semester I can see the light go on in their minds when they finally “get it.”  They are finally free of their negative thoughts and fears and able to move on with their education.

H. Emily Cady in her book Lessons in Truth wrote:

You may think that something stands between you and your heart’s desire, and so live with that desire unfulfilled, but it is not true.  This “thing” is a bugaboo under the bed that has no reality.  Deny it, deny it, and you will find yourself free, and you will realize that this seeming was all false.  Then you will see the good flowing into you, and you will see clearly that nothing can stand between you and your own [good/freedom].[1]

You will be free!

Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years and yet he was still able to be a powerful symbol of black resistance to apartheid. On February 11, 1990 he was released by President de Klerk and in 1991 he was elected president of the African National Congress. In 1993 Mandela and President de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work toward dismantling apartheid.

A similar story can be told in our country about Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Susan Bright Eyes LaFlesche (Omaha Native American civil rights activist.) and R.C. Gorman painter, sculptor and Native American the first Native American to be internationally recognized as a major American artist.

R.C. Gorman Native American artist

Freedom: Nothing stood in the way of their “hearts desire.” Do not let anything stand in yours either. Freedom is not a place—it is a consciousness.

Be free to meet your good today!  Let me know how that goes!

In gassho,

Shokai

[1] Cady, H.E. (1903).  Lessons in Truth. Unity Village, MO: Unity House

 

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Determination: Paramita #8 in our series on the 10 Paramitas

“The Gateless Gate”
The great path has no gates,
Thousands, of roads enter it.
When one passes through this gateless gate
He walks freely between heaven and earth. (Mascetti, 2001)[1]

This is life in the 21st Century.  How many of us see the thousands of roads, opportunities, challenges, joys, and frustrations and get so befuddled that we freeze up and simply stop in our tracks?  The challenge feels overwhelming, too much for us to take on, too much to think about, too much to do, and we become impotent.  And yet when we do move ahead and accept the challenge we find that we can succeed and overcome even the most demanding and mind boggling life’s situations.

Once we find that gate and have the strength and determination to pass through it we see that it wasn’t as difficult as we may have thought.  Or the reward at the other end was greater than we could have imagined.  Or if we do not succeed we find that life did not end, that failure was easier to accept than we thought, or that our desire changed and we decided that we could live without the thing, the job, the person, or the possession.  We may even have reviewed what we truly value in life and found out that it was NOT it.

Determination is something that all of the most enlightened creative  people that we recognize on this planet had—Jesus, Shakyamuni Buddha, Mohammad, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore (Founders of the Unity Church), Thomas Edison (inventor of too many things to list), Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and you. Yes, you!  You would not be reading this if you were not on your way to enlightenment or have not had some wonderful enlightening experiences through your determination to pray, meditate, or sit. Some of those experiences may have even come simply by accident. That great universal AH HA can sneak up on us at any time, and many times when we least expect it…so keep your eyes open—it just may be right here, right now!

Notice the word “light” inside the word “enlightenment.”  These people saw the light in something that was greater than them, they paid attention, and they acted on the light and thus changed the world.

And yet, sometimes we simply need to be determined to let things go, to stop pushing, trying, thinking, mulling, and running the show. As Osho wrote:

Sitting silently,
Doing nothing,
Spring comes,
And the grass grows by itself.[2]

Enlightenment is knowing when, and if, and how to do it, or NOT—to simply be determined to let go and let the spring know how to grow the grass all by itself.


[1] Mascetti, M.D., 2001, The Little Book of Zen Haiku, Koans, Sayings, NY: Fall River Press, pg.69

[2] Ibid. page 24

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