By: David Shen-Xi Sensei
In a wonderful old Buddhist story, a man tells his friend about an extraordinary spiritual master 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 this Buddha nature! Prove to me that it 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 pond. 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 master holds his head firmly submerged. Finally, on his fourth attempt, the teacher lets him out of the water. The poor man bursts out of the water, gasping for air. “What are you trying to do, kill me?” he yells at the master. 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 seeing Buddha nature is as desperate as your desire for air, for your very breath, then you will find the source for all that is empty!”
This powerful story dramatically illustrates the importance of commitment to a dedicated and wise practice, both meditative and contemplative. No genuine progress is possible without it. Such a commitment expresses itself in the discipline of regular, daily practice that paves the way for breakthroughs, for the mystery of awakening to happen.
A serious practice is the core of our transformation, and it requires what can be called the contemplative attitude, a disposition to life of perfected depth. A contemplative practice often means hours of meditation and other forms of inner exploration. Silence and solitude, the seeking of illumination and wisdom beyond wisdom, are further parts of the contemplative experience, a process of our ultimate spiritual 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, will lead us down the path to wisdom. We live in a mutual-causal world. Everything happens as an effect of another action, either human or not. It all started at the moment our Universe was created, or what we understand as the core principle of Dependent-Origination. 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 reality. It is up to us to discover the power of a contemplative dimension in our life. In walking this path we open ourselves to the all important lesson of what it means to be human on a mission to understand the unity of all things. The power of this awareness should not be underestimated. It is the key that opens the door to our true natures. We can only see it when we know.