By: David Xi-Ken Astor, Sensei
In a wonderful Tibetan Buddhist story, a man tells his friend about an extraordinary spiritual teacher he has met. Although this friend is curious about this teacher, he is also somewhat skeptical, so he decides to seek out this holy man and put him to the test. After asking around, he discovers the master is living and teaching nearby, so the young man goes to see him and manages to obtain an audience with him. He defiantly walks before the teacher, and before he can catch himself, blurts out a challenge: “Show me God! Prove to me that he exists!”
The saintly master calmly extends his hand and, in a soothing, inviting tone, says, “Come with me.” The young person takes the teacher’s hand, in the Asian sign of friendship, and off they go to the neighborhood lake. As they reach the place, the teacher leads the man into the water and tells him to dive in. Then the master does something even stranger. He holds the mans head under the water. As the minutes pass, the man tries three times to come up, but the Lama holds his head firmly submerged. Finally, on his fourth attempt, the teacher lets him out of the water. The poor soul bursts out of the water, gasping for air. “What are you trying to do, kill me?” he yells at the saint. The holy man looks at him with infinite compassion and lovingly, patiently responds: “Forgive me if I caused you undue anxiety, but when your desire for God is as desperate as your desire for air, for your very breath, then you will find the source for Creation!”
This powerful story dramatically illustrates the importance of commitment in the spiritual life. No genuine progress is possible without it. Such a commitment expresses itself in the discipline of regular, daily spiritual practice that paves the way for breakthroughs, for the miracles of grace to happen.
Spiritual practice is the core of our transformation, and it requires what can be called the contemplative attitude, a disposition to life of mystical depth. Spiritual practice often means meditation and other forms of inner exploration. It can also mean prayer. Silence and solitude – the seeking of illumination and wisdom – are further parts of the contemplative experience, a process of our ultimate evolution, our unfolding to higher states of awareness. To understand how this process can unfold in our lives, we need to explore its elements.
This is what I hope we are doing here at OEB. Our personal experiences provides us an opportunity to gain knowledge. Application of knowledge, when done in the spirit of right intent, is wisdom. We live in a mutual causal world. Everything happens as an effect of another action. Either human or not. It started at the moment our Universe was created. We are here as a result of that original event. Everything we think or do is a continuation of that action. Even our deaths contribute to this Universal expression. It is up to us to discover the contemplative dimension of life and experience what it means to be human on a mission to understand the unity of all things.