*Brian Wilcox. 'each one makes us as one possible'. Flickr
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A continuance of dialogues with a sage who did not see himself as a sage, but others did; from Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
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The essence of [spiritual] warriorship, or the essence of human bravery, is refusing to give up on anyone or anything. We can never say that we are simply falling to pieces or that anyone else is, and we can never say that about the world either.
*Carolyn Rose Gimian, Ed. The Essential Chogyam Trungpa.
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A student from a nearby college, writing a research project on spiritual community for her sociology class, attended a month of evening group sessions with the sage. After the last session, the student requested a private meeting with the sage to ask questions for her project. He agreed to the questions, but said it needed to be with all present, not in private. The sage wanted all done to be done for the edification of all.
You seem very content in relating with those who come to your sessions, never being judgmental toward them, only encouraging them. At least, that's what I feel in these few weeks coming. How do you see your role with those who come here?
Your question evokes remembrance of a beautiful saying in the Christian Bible, from the Book of Philemon. In this short letter, the Christian apostle Paul, being with his companion Timothy, writes to Philemon, a friend and Christian. The letter is slyly penned as encouragement for Philemon to release his slave, Onesimus, newly become a follower of Jesus, and, so, Christian brother. Paul, in the greeting, addressed Philemon as "dearly beloved and companion in [spiritual] work." Shortly after, the lovely commendation, "For we have great joy and consolation in your love, for the spirit of the saints [i.e., all Christians, holy ones] are refreshed by you, brother." To me, I became acutely aware early in life that love is the most important sharing. So, those I share with here, I pray they will always feel loved, feel love flowing through anything I do or say among them. That is my heart desire.
So, I would hope that each time we share, we leave having refreshed each other. That, to me, is the role of community in communion.
What's the key for you to such sharing that leads to refreshment?
Communicate from the heart to the heart, meaning love with love, not head to head, or intellect with intellect. Certainly, sharing conceptually is part of what I do, but I aim for that to arise from the heart. What one says is not the key, but from where one says it. To use an English idiom, we are present together for a heart-touching sharing. The guide models being a means of pure Presence, inviting a like response from anyone present. In the guide being a conduit of divine Presence, arising through his or her being, others are taught the centrality of being a sacrament of Life for others, and that this is the most important communication, the heart of communion. Without this communication of Presence, a group can be a group, never a communion.
What's this presence?
I cannot tell you. You have to know it by knowing it. Yet, you can call this "God," "Allah," "Grace," "Love," "Lord," "Yahweh," "Creator," "Supreme Being," "Brahman," "Truth," "Reality," "Life," "Dharmakaya," ~ I call this many things ~ still, these are solely hints to urge you to look for until you find, and, then, you realize you have been found by the One. Then, you know, for you know you are known.
Do you ever feel impatience toward anyone you're giving guidance for?
Impatience rarely arises, if it does, it is seen for what it is, it disappears. Also, in pure presence, impatience in the teacher can be an urging, energy, in guiding someone. Here, impatience is neither good nor bad, only wise energy. So, it can be used for encouragement. Still, once the energy arises, the inspiration is available, and the impatience is not prolonged by the guide. Rarely, however, is anyone prepared to channel impatience well, for most persons it is sticky, and it tends to stick around, rather than disappear.
In an early Buddhist scripture, the Buddha gives a simple teaching to a seeker of Truth, and right then and there he, the seeker sitting silently and listening, nothing else, is awakened to Truth. Ananda, companion of the Buddha, is impressed. The Buddha says to him, "A good horse runs even at the shadow of the whip." This is the seeker most prepared for Truth. The Buddha proceeds to share of other seekers. A second is like a horse that runs just before the whip hits the skin. A third, runs when feeling the pain on the skin. The least ready, runs when feeling the pain in its bones. The Buddha sees the link between suffering, or dissatisfaction, and readiness to listen to Truth. Yet, who can judge another person as to his or her readiness? One appearing least ready may be most ready. A wise guide can have some clarity here, but complete clarity on this? And even a wise guide cannot know in advance how suddenly one may become ready.
I've heard you came up in the Christian faith, become a scholar, pastor, and professor. Any inspiration from your past tradition that guides you in guiding others?
I am not comfortable calling it my past tradition. What was once close to us, lives on in us. It never really ends. Even after not identifying with it, we may live it more deeply, more purely. That aside, I feel encouraged in recalling Jesus inviting persons to learn from him and find rest in being his follower, in the Gospel of Matthew, and he says "for I am gentle and humble in heart." I am adverse to this whole idea of the teacher being above the student. Regarding the types Buddha speaks of, I enjoyed reading the Zen teacher Ben Connelly commenting. He observes, rather than being a whip, he wants to be a good friend, standing with all the other horses munching grass in the field and swiping the tails to brush flies from each other's faces. I like that image. It is humorous and true. I am prayerful to be a safe place for others, a being with whom they can rest and enjoy refreshment. I pray to be with them, not over them. So, in some sense, maybe we all here are swiping flies from each other's faces.
It appears, to me, all this could apply to any relationship, not just here. True?
A wisdom guide's most important teaching is not what he or she says, but how he or she is. This teaching is not meant only for the teacher and student, but for the student to apply in compassionate, caring relationships in the rest of his or her life. The Truth applies everywhere, with everyone. And the seeker of Truth is devoted, in following a wisdom path, to Truth alone. Truth arises, in some way, in all relationships, even apparently chance encounters, like standing together on a street corner, waiting for a signal that it is safe to cross. Seen or unseen, Grace is always present. The question becomes, then, in all my encounters with others, and with myself, "Am I present to Grace?" For Grace is always the unseen host, and unseen guest.
So, as to my relationship, which you asked about, of these here and myself, this host and guest applies. We are refreshed together, when we all are gracious hosts and guests. I am both a host, by Grace, to these, and they to me. This is the divine reciprocity that makes communion possible in any gathering. This reciprocity is the motion of Love, Love loving. We, here, are lovers.
*Brian Wilcox. 'a passionate fellowship'. Flickr
(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019
The theme of "Lotus of the Heart" is 'Living in Love beyond Beliefs.' This work is presented by Brian K. Wilcox, of Maine, USA. You can order Brian's book An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, through major online booksellers.
*Reference to Ben Connelly, from Inside the Grass Hut: Living Shitou's Classic Zen Poem.