LOTUS OF THE HEART
Living in Love beyond Beliefs
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Zen Master Kosho Uchiyama (1912-1998) . . .
Everything you encounter is your life.
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A devotee asked the Sage, "You speak of the importance of aloneness, but you seem to enjoy having persons around you." "Yes," said the Sage. "What's your point?" "I don't understand why?" The Sage replied, "I enjoy having God around." "I don't understand," came the reply. "My being alone is not my being alone," answered the Sage. "I don't understand anything you're saying?" "You will," replied the Sage. Then, he stated, "Remember, you can place the ocean on your fingertip."
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The twig sways
there must be a breeze
though unseen by my eyes
A face stares back from the mirror
there must be a person
though I see him not
A word echoes through the air
there must be a voice
though I find not its source
Her heart longs for the Beloved
there must be a Beloved
though she only feels a subtle Presence
There is knowledge
only the heart is sure of
only the heart can know
A candle lit by the mind
snuffed out by this ecstasy !—
I'm going out of myself !—
Oh! what I see in this beautiful Darkness
What bliss is missed
by the keepers of religion—
The joy I know!
The love that enraptures the heart!
Why keep wringing your hands
when the Beloved waits to place the
wedding band on your finger?
I must hush now
or some will think
I've gone out of my mind—
I have. . . . Silence!
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Sufis use the Arabic shobet of the mystical meeting of hearts. Here, two persons or more have gone within communication to the bliss of communion and to union.
Christians speak of koinonia. This Greek word, meaning "sharing, participation, fellowship," usually refers not to sharing something but participating together. The ideal Christian community is a single participation, is the koinonia, not persons in a group together. Early Christians coined "Body of Christ" to speak of this fellowship of diversity-being-unity.
In shobet, or koinonia, we experience both the other and the Other, one seen, one Unseen; the Other makes possible the Body, heart-with-heart.
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In being present to this moment, we can open to the logos - what the late Bishop Kallistos Ware, Greek Orthodox Christian, called the "inner principle" of each thing (The Orthodox Way). Through this logos, this creaturely word of the primordial Word, we come face-to-face with the Sacred. Ware clarifies we can see "all things, persons and moments as signs and sacraments of God." And, "Discovering the uniqueness of each thing, we discover also how each points beyond itself to him who made it." So, the words above of Zen Master Kosho Uchiyama, "Everything you encounter is your life?" Why? Absolutely, you have no life, you are a part of life. You were not given life, you came forth from life; you cannot lose life, for life cannot lose itself. Yet, the life you are is none other than the life the gnat or peer tree or earthworm or morning breeze is.
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So, human fellowship becomes a sacrament pointing to that which makes all Nature possible. The participation occurs for that Word, or what the Quakers call "that of God in everyone," resonates in communion. Whether one knows it or not, she or he is a word worded, so pointing to the Unseen of everyone else. Fellowship is a sacrament of Presence, whether those in fellowship recognize it or not.
No one can see this Life, only evidences of this Life. An example is the present studies of consciousness: which is Life being conscious of itself. Some even say the brain is wired for God. Yet, what these scientists miss is that we cannot see Consciousness, God, or Life, we can only map the after-effects, the traces of this Aliveness. This like to recognizing the moment: once the thought of this moment arises, the thought is the trace of the unseen motion of Life. So, we cannot locate that which makes possible and is actualized in the intimacy of communion; however, we can sense its power, its fluid motion within us and about us. This sense-of-flow is a manifestation of Consciousness, or Life, or God. God Gods, making spiritual fellowship possible, not as a gathered group but a moving body of Aliveness.
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All creation speaks the silence of God. This emanation of Spirit makes the body of the world, a body which is our body, holy. To participate in form is to partake of God. All the world becomes a rite of communion wherein we can choose to give ourselves in loving intimacy with Life, the Life within lives, the Breath within breath.
The late Anglican metaphysical poet George Herbert, in The Elixir - in old English -, uses "glasse" to speak of an indirect experience of the world of Spirit, the form through which one can pass to look on heaven. Herbert draws from a Christian scripture, "Now we see through a glass dimly, but then we shall see face-to-face, for we now see in part, but then we shall know as we are now fully known."
Teach me, my God and King,
In all things thee to see,
And what I do in any thing,
To do it as for thee.
A man that looks on glasse [glassa],
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it passe [passa],
And then the heav'n espie [i.e., see, look upon].
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A function, then, of spiritual practice and spiritual community is to sensitive the body-and-mind to the Word of things. In Grace, its become alive as more than objects at our disposal, for our use. We relate to Spirit, the "above," so to realize "below" that same above, through the spiritualization of matter. If we do not relate to the Subtle-of-things, things become lifeless to us, even as other persons become merely lifeless its. This is the delusion that shrouds the world in violence and oppression, as in classism, religionism, and politicism. This world is unreal, for it is not real; we, in devoting to it, become unreal, unable to experience the depths of communion, and we become a mere it among other mere its - lifeless parts moving along space-time from nowhere to nowhere. As wrote Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude -
There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us.
The spiritual path is present not to lead us away from the world of things, but to sensitize us to the holiness of things and usher us into a living community with them. The whole world, seen and unseen, becomes for us a shobet, koinonia.
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©️ Brian Wilcox, 2020
*Quote of Kosho Uchiyama, in David Rynick. This Truth Never Fails: A Zen Memoir in Four Seasons.