I took the Bodhissattva vow which means that I will always engage directly with my own pain and blocks, even if they are never-ending, because when I do then I can really be be of actual help.
My sangha (community) is Zenways.
I have a regular practice and there is a focus on the Hara. This work is an aspect of embodiment, although it can also quicken the energy into an imbalance and it is wise to have a supportive and nurturing approach to it. In my experience there are many ways to foster our compassion, starting with ourselves.
And also recognising the power of our intention, or focus.
I attendedmy first sesshin(annual zen retreat) in 2011.
It was so great, awful and hilarious.
I had no idea what I was doing and was all at sea and overwhelmed but loved the silent companionship of everyone sitting together.
Shinzan Roshi, at first inscrutable and looking at me like I was a little bit crazy, gently turned kind as he heard me state I had no confidence in myself.
I was the embodiment of defeat after trying so hard for so long to find something in the world that even remotely reflected my inner experience.
( my recurring theme from early childhood, yes !! ).
All as I struggled to understand what was needed from me in this Zen situation, to answer the koan
(a koan is a universal zen challenge to our individual mind, we embody questions as the actual answer, beyond thinking mind.)
'Does a dog have Buddha Nature?...
I found the answer within, after a bit of orientation,
and also recognised the koan process with joy, as I uncovered my deeper strengths and confidences, things I knew with no doubt, and communicated them to Shinzan over the five days,
from fighting demons in the astral,
from surviving an attack on my physical life,
giving birth to my baby,
and all the other life events where I had to gather myself completely together to act,
nothing left out.
I had to totally BE ONE with these happenings, and yet not shut down, to survive, so I knew how I had to be here and now.
In the middle of the five days Shinzan said to me,
My mind turned towards his,
we were both floating a couple of feet off the ground (yes ! that is the experience)
BUT I had a BUT, as the old feeling of being a piece of nothing,
a piece of shit who no one ever believes,
floating unheard, unseen and abandoned, arose.
And then he said
The experience of this liberation is in the middle of those two states as though they are two sides of a gate into it. It's not about being something but it is not nothing either....
My inquiry was resolved as my mind burst away from another piece of conditioning and opened even more.
The process came to me in picture form as we were going along, and I made a book out of it, called
(Link and preview below and some pages on the right)
Shinzans message is that we are all One Mind, (Awareness)
and to realise this level of reality lessens pain and reactivity, and brings into focus how and why we feel separation.
We then can start to work with what hinders our flow.
Because experiencing our own True Nature, as One Mind/Awareness, is the first step to expressing who we really are as individuals, how we work in our worlds, bringing the Buddha/True nature to fruition in all these worlds,
using all the skills we have to play our parts in the
Universal transformation of consciousness
which is the One Mind in action.