I was thinking about location and ‘being’ before a recent trip to the temple for a mindfulness retreat stay.
The idea and knowledge of having a planned trip back to the temple always fills me with warmth. To be reconnected with templemates, the Sangha, a sense of action and purpose through the Earth vigils, and a stronger sense of being connected to the Buddha than where I now live up north. But I still find parts of me unsettled by the travelling and change in surroundings. I asked myself before this recent visit, ‘am I able to be anywhere geographically and locationally, but connected to both myself and something bigger’?
The answer at the moment feels like it is a ‘no’. I vaguely remembered a saying along the lines of ‘you are exactly where you are supposed to be’. I assumed it meant locationally. I don’t know if it also means cosmically, spiritually and internally. Maybe it can be any or all of those, acknowledging there is overlap between them. The saying sounds comforting to me in terms of cosmically and locationally. That sense of fate and/or being guided by something bigger. But I’m not sure it feels true, or perhaps helpful, to me.
Maybe spiritually and internally, being compassionate, it’s the best I can be at this moment. Maybe that is a truth of sorts. But it’s not where I want to be. Brother Graham (Brian) and I used to recount lines from the poem ‘Desiderata’ in the temple kitchen. One of our shared favourites is ‘You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here’. Having a right to be here gives me some comfort and compassion. But, I think, accepting and embracing this right also means accepting the rights of others to be here. The trees, stars, sentient beings and others struggling, like me, whether consciously or not, with their delusions, ignorance and reckless actions to the earth and all its inhabitants.
For me I think there might be hard, but beautiful, work to do to move forwards spiritually and internally. Part of that hard work feels like it could be surrendering to, and taking refuge in, Amida Buddha. The distance to lean in maybe small in many ways, but in others ways it feels to me like one of the furthest and most challenging. Maybe it is both simultaneously near and far. But the further I go spiritually, the less distance I have to travel internally to be connected to myself and something bigger. So that, perhaps, my physical locational becomes much less important to how I think and feel, and what I am able to offer and receive. So that wherever I am physically, or even internally at times, I am nearly always in the right place in relation to the Buddha.
Namo Amida Bu.
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Thanks Philip. I often feel comforted by that saying, ‘you are where you need to be’ or even better, ‘this is what the universe has got for you today’. It may be a little bit spiritual bypassy, if we are using it to deflect emotions, but there is something encouraging about the determinism of it.
It is often said that everything is already done, we’re just going through the motions in space – time, playing out the Inevitable. But, according to the ancient masters, the Buddha already achieved his/her/it’s perfect vision of enlightenment, and we are all included in the results! Namo Amida Bu.