A Dharma Glimpse by Alison
Written on 8th Dec
Today is the anniversary of Buddha Shakyamuni’s Enlightenment and I’m writing my First Dharma Glimpse. During this morning’s Nembutsu, I began chanting then suddenly started to laugh. I don’t really know why, or at least I didn’t. I looked up at the Buddha and said a rather silly, “Sorry.” The Buddha smiled back and reminded me that it’s fine to not always take the practice too seriously. We can bring lightness and humour into what we do. I said, “Thank you,” and started laughing again, as I realised that on the one hand this seemed really silly, but that this was an important insight and that, at the same time, my Glimpse had been seemingly gifted to me. I was relieved to have had this inspiration and could use it as my Glimpse. A little later, the thought that this wasn’t the kind of Glimpse that I’d wanted to write about entered my mind. I had wanted to write a serious Glimpse, a clever Glimpse, incorporating a message from Manshi Kiyozawa’s book, which I am currently studying, ‘December Fan.’ This ‘gifted Glimpse or insight’ was too short and too simple, not to mention too silly. It wasn’t enough to meet my high expectations of myself, satisfying my need for perfectionism, especially for my Very First Dharma Glimpse. Yet the Buddha had taught me that it was enough. I was reminded just recently, in the aftermath of an intensely stressful move from London to Malvern, that I’d made the decision to adopt a mantra, being ‘Less is Enough.’ I need to go more gently. I had been partly successful: my bread not rising for Bodhi Day was enough; my not saying too much during the Listening Circle was enough; my stopping after 30 minutes of cleaning the kitchen was enough and my not having been able to prepare responses on others’ book reflections last week was also enough. So, maybe, writing a short and silly Glimpse, that nevertheless conveyed a good message, that had ‘dropped into my lap’ this morning, would also be enough. I have typically spent my life with large agendas, requiring me to meet my high standards. Perhaps my new life at the temple could be a gift of an opportunity to relax, let go, laugh, lighten the load and accept that Amida is smiling at me and has my back. Amida doesn’t mind if I’m silly and if I do less. Amida accepts me as I am. I can simply trust in the process that all will be well, even with less. Less is Enough.
I now remember Kiyozawa implying that responsibilities and commitments (meeting extrinsic demands within his Japanese culture) wasn’t as important as trusting in the ‘Power Beyond the self.’ So, perhaps in future, when I feel inclined to do more and more, I will sit with the Buddha and know that ‘I am enough,’ even when I start to laugh during Nembutsu. When I can only do less, that the Buddha will still smile at me and I can relax, knowing that Less is Enough.
“The only thing there can be is gratitude to the Buddha for guiding us…. The Buddha has the sole initiative for whatever we do or do not do.” (Manshi Kiyozawa, December Fan, Chapter 4, page 32).
“There is no failure for one who trusts in the wondrous working of the Infinite.” (M. Kiyozawa, December Fan, Chapter 5, page 38).
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