Dharma Glimpse by Frankie
Serendipity – by definition good luck; coincidence; fortuity.
I also define it in my own loose way as a coming together, a falling into place.
In the last week I had been thinking about a question posed in a book by secular Buddhists Stephen and Martine Batchelor – What is This? It’s a question that has drifted through my practice over the years, and one that is common in Zen. But I found myself thinking it quite out of the blue about something I was experiencing. The next morning I read an interview with poet Jane Hirshfield in which she talked about having a question to practice with when she first started out in Soto Zen – she mentioned What is This in passing.
A seed started to germinate. In the past I’ve had words to practice with, what would it be like to have a question. What if that question were What is This?
A day later I was curious about an Italian Zen priest I’d noticed amongst teachers I know and respect – I looked his page up on Facebook as was shocked to find that he held very strong political opinions, almost anarchistic, and was a supporter of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I reacted but thankfully not with the keyboard. I then paused, took three sacred breaths of reflection, and asked myself What is This? That question covered all of it, his held views, my own views – also tightly held – my strong reaction.
I found that What is This went a long way to getting ‘Me’ out of the way, taking ‘My opinions’ with it. I could see the situation in its entirety, both of us holding onto views, through our own suffering and our suffering for others. What is This, while taking ‘Me’ out of the equation, also forced me to see myself not as ‘other’ but part of What This Is, both of us, all of us.
This is the practice, this is the work, and What is This will now be a valuable part of my life’s toolbox
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