In Shelborne Falls, Massachusetts, you can find an outcropping of rocks that run in and out of the Deerfield river. Known as "The potholes," it's a fantastic place to swim. With natural made Jacuzzis and waterfalls, there are areas where rocks became lodged into ruts, holes and divots until spun round by many years and gallons of water. The result formed potholes and the above named Jacuzzis.
The power of perseverance!
Like the fish searching for water or the square peg being forced into the round hole, we search for God, for enlightenment, for an understanding of things that will give us comfort; to free us from suffering.
I recall hearing someone once say something about head knowledge and heart knowledge. Like the preacher who spoke about the letter of the law and the spirit of the law; let those with ears to hear, hear. That search for God, for enlightenment, for an understanding of things that will give us comfort and free us from suffering is found in that place of heart and of spirit and of hearing which is beyond words.
I have often felt that I have understood enlightenment and then, in a flash, I realize in that moment that I know nothing at all; and in a sense there lies a clue.
I know that compassion is the spark that created all creation and it continues to be the creating spark of awareness, enlightenment and understanding.
In our quest for God, enlightenment and a release from suffering, we become introspective. We begin to adopt some form of discipline, some rules to live by. Next, we begin to see that we often fall short of the expectation that we have set for ourselves. We don't keep the commandments well. We struggle with the Buddhist precepts. We don't meditate enough. We're not as compassionate as we should be. We're not as we should be. And then we begin to feel depressed for falling short of our expectations.
This is not the way...
The fact that we are able to recognize that we have things that we don't like about ourselves, that we fall short of our expectations, our chosen discipline, is a gift. This awareness, this recognition is the starting place, the jumping off point. The creative power of compassion and the tool of awareness can then begin to create those natural Jacuzzis and waterfalls within us.
This the heart of Zen. This is our practice.
When we berate ourselves for not being what we should be, we are determining right then and there to continue in our state of berating and feeling bad about ourselves. This is the seed we've planted and the crop that we're cultivating. And then we feel bad about that as well.
If we can begin to use compassion and awareness as our jumping off point, our practice, we will cultivate the seed of compassion and the crop of awareness.
And how do we begin to use compassion and awareness as our jumping off point?