This is the twenty-fourth of the series of reflections arising from a month in silence and solitude; the musings invite the reader to explore the Truth for himself or herself. May the writer's reflections be windows to look in, or out, onto the vista of our one Beloved, our deepest, truest Self. Peace! Brian K
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If you understand the deep moan in the depth of human life, that moan turns into compassion.
*Katagiri, Dainin. The Light That Shines through Infinity: Zen and the Energy of Life. Shambhala. Kindle Edition.
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Now, sitting at my home altar, on the left, is a lovely statue of Kuan Yin. She, the most highly esteemed female Bodhisattva, is depicted in varied ways in Buddhist iconography. This statue is holding a vase downward, she is pouring the waters of compassion for the healing of the world. In another hand is a magic jewel, this representing the nobility and power of holy aspirations. She looks contemplative, tenderhearted, but not overcome with sorrow. I see her downward eyes, this speaks of her being observant of the sufferings in the world; her name, spelled in varied ways, can be rendered "One who attends to the cries of the world."
Why this at the altar, for I was raised to see this as idolatry and forbidden? First, she is not a goddess, and is comparable to Mother Mary in Christianity. Both adored, prayed to, neither deity. So, she is not a depiction of Mother God, or Goddess, but a being remaining outside Nirvana, so to help others be free of suffering. Why this at my altar, though?
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Walking the labyrinth, during retreat, a Kuan Yin was sitting at the center. I felt a strong connection to her, a reverence even, and bowed several times, or more, to her.
This surprised me. This felt right, like this warmth was being drawn out of me, a warmth of love and gratitude. So, I wanted this reminder where I pray and meditate daily. Yes, reminder says it well... something was awakened in me that day at the labyrinth, something of her was the truth of my heart.
I discovered she is the Bodhisattva of Compassion. I, too, had been inspired by the image of Jesus as a Being of Compassion. And many persons along my life journey have modeled for and to me this warmth of caring, this reaching out of love. Kuan Yin represents all of them, she is not just a universal image of compassion, but kindly care that touches us in the most ordinary ways, enriching our lives day-to-day. Where would any of us be, had it not been for many kind beings who have helped us, from being in the womb until now? Imagine the wealth of kindly care a compassionate mother has as the fetus grows inside the womb? We are born in love, to live in love.
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Each day, in the morning meditation, I have varied rituals, including three series of prayers for the well-being of all beings. I sense this need to voice the aspiration of the heart, that which arose before Kuan Yin that day from my own being. Through doing this daily, the aspiration to bless all beings, including relieving suffering, arises and grows. An aspiration is like a seed, the seed needs watering. Prayer is one means of watering. And, remembering this aspiration through prayers in the morning, one is more likely to remember it throughout the day and for it to inform his or her life. Kuan Yin, standing to my left, is a reminder of my responsibility to bring healing joy into someone's life, to be a presence of Grace. See reminds me not to turn away from my own deep groaning or that of the world, one groan.
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So, we need to realize, deeply, that all beings have the same longings we do. They do not want to suffer. They want joyfulness. They want to feel loved and valued. They want to be respected. They want to be appreciated. They want to feel they are bringing good to others. We each, most deeply, long for the same graces. So, we can begin by getting in touch with the longings within ourselves, and feeling anew what those feel like, not repressing or suppressing. And a temptation of spiritual practitioners is to think being spiritual means not feeling such things, being above that humanness. No! Being spiritual will actually allow you to be more honest and in-touch with the deep well-springs of longing. You do not want to be above these longings, these deep wishes, but to feel them with all beings. Then, you can truly pray in communion with them, not merely pray for them.
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We all have days we could call one of those bad days, meaning we are down emotionally, real down, big down not a little down. Like yesterday the Sun was shining in through open windows, now all is curtained off and looks and feels dark. You seem unable to open the curtains. You seem stuck in the dark. Like an emotional eclipse blocking the Light. I was surprised by this, recently. I felt hurt to the bones. I examined this, thinking I might be being selfish: like pouting. Eventually, I sat with it, and the ache became seen to be where I needed to be and to feel it without trying to solve it. I mean, the pain was the place to relax, and then it could open out beyond my pain into simply pain, then more into our pain. That seems the progression, from personal to impersonal to universal. And when we look at suffering, allowing wisdom to arise, we see that ~ suffering is suffering, the suffering everyone feels, everywhere. See then, this is how you pray and live, you embrace your suffering and let it unfold to everyone's suffering, so you have honored both the self-experience but as the same-experience of all sentient beings. Suffering wears diverse garb, while suffering is suffering.
Another way of saying this is meditation is intended for you to be pushed right into the silent groan within your own self, the suffering of your lifetime, including what you have projected onto others, suppressed, and repressed. Then, you find that tender place within you arise, a place you may have tried to live around. One can even meditate around this tenderness, but that is not compassionate meditation, and all meditation needs to be compassionate. Possibly, you thought the tenderness was gone. Maybe, you avoided it, thinking you were too mature to be that tender, or that living that tenderness would overwhelm you. Now, you are there. Then, in Silence you sit in it, with it all around you. You do this, not only for your own healing, but to be a healer. You do this to be more sensitive to how you bring suffering to others, and how you can lessen that. You do this to be more sensitive as to how to be a comforting balm to others. You join the tenderness with skillful means to be a Kuan Yin in our world.
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having bestowed upon me
the Christ faith in You
let me share this divine joy
with all those
who hunger to meet you
inside their hearts
Mooji. The Mala of God.
New Harbinger Publications. Kindle Edition.
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*All material, unless another source is cited, is authored by the presenter of Lotus of Heart, Brian Kenneth Wilcox, Florida USA. Use of the material is permitted; Brian only requests that credit be given and to be notified at firstname.lastname@example.org .
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union, is available through major booksellers.
*Move cursor over pictures for photographer and title.