Not everything is impermanent. In Buddhism we sometimes say nirvana, sometimes shunyata, we talk of No-birth and of the Deathless, and sometimes we say the unconditioned. These are all implications. When the passion for impermanent things is no longer in the driving seat, that is nirvana. When the ego no longer insists, that is shunyata. What is not impermanent is not born and does not die. Whatever depends upon impermanent conditions is itself necessarily impermanent.

We live in a world of wonders - pleasure and pain, birth and death, coming and going, riches and poverty, society and taxes, enterprise and leisure, like so much scenery flashing past the window of the train. Yet when we try to catch hold of this it slips away, insubstantial. Possessions are unreliable. The body is unreliable. The mind is unreliable. Conditions change, often with little warning.

From birth we have the intuition of a beyond in which we can have faith, but this inherent faith is assailed on all sides by the seduction of the materialist reduction and the convention of self-serving. Lucky are the few who survive with "but little dust in their eyes". The disease of worldliness infects and establishes itself, manufacturing blockages like so many embolisms in the circulation of the spirit, producing confusion, debilitation, inner stress, grief, anguish and conflict. Our hearts are put under great pressure in this way.

There is a perfusion that can dissolve these clots. It is called nembutsu. When the circulation is full of the thought of Buddha, the one who is already beyond, who enjoys the freedom of the unconditioned, then the karmic traces cease to be obstructions, the passions become celestial flowers, and the body-mind becomes a precious vehicle with a new driver.

When we are full of the feeling of Dharma, the ultimate support that holds and gives witness, taking whatever form necessary, as the Earth Mother, as the Buddha of Light, as Quan Shi Yin, as innumerable bodhisattvas "springing from the earth", speaking the language that the hearer needs, then we are already standing at the gateless gate.

Nirvana is not attained by any combination or contrivance of worldly factors. The conditioned cannot give rise to the unconditioned. Before enlightenment there is only the enlightenment of all the Buddhas. After enlightenment, the same. Yet after a conditioned life there is only death and more conditioning. Nothing done in a worldly manner will produce an unworldly result. What happens here is not a cause of arriving there. We are not awakened by our dreams, but from them. The Greeks called it anamnesia, the Indians, bodhi.

I sit in my hospital bed. The staff come. Sometimes they bring relief, sometimes pain. The body heals, the body fails. It is all the same. A nurse with a smiling face; another with a gruff manner - it is all the same: the same love, the same light, the same awakening; each time simply one instance of eternity to enjoy. Namo Amida Bu.

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Replies to This Discussion

Sounds like the Buddha Dao working in your life. Thank you. It's always useful to be reminded of the essential fundamentals. No matter how well prepared I think I am, Samsara pulls the proverbial rug out and I find myself in the grip of delusion, time after time. But now the angles have changed, Nembutsu brings spiritual perspective and it all is, as it is! Congratulations on your recovery. Namo Amida Bu(   ;. 

Grateful for the view from your hospital bed. I find myself thinking often of how much what I've learnt here feels of urgent relevance to the growing sense of foreboding at large, concerning what manner of change is currently gathering itself.

The perfusion of nembutsu (new word to me) is a fine image. Here as before you touch on something that has come (is coming) so slowly, to me, in the smallest of steps. As you put it in 'More Awe', if we for some reason address ourselves to the wrong Divine Face, we can rest assured 'she'll pass the message on'.

It reminded me of a story I heard, of an elderly villager at a well-known French pilgrimage shrine to a child saint (St Foy), asked if it was better to pray to Our Lady, or to the Saints. She chuckled and said 'All prayers go to the same place, so it doesn't matter.'

The story you tell about Saigyo's awakening at the animist deity's shrine is another lovely example. Or this, by James Carse, who I believe Satya and Kaspa have been enjoying of late: 

"I am now persuaded that speaking to God from the heart is the only real religious issue there is. Learn to pray, and all else follows. It is not the content of the heart that matters, only the ability to speak from it. We sometimes think that a heart full of hatred, or envy, or a heart drained of passion, disqualifies itself for authentic prayer. The task, however, is not preparing your heart for prayer, but for speaking from your heart as it is." The Silence of God, James Carse

Thanks, Namo Amida `Bu

Speak from your heart as it is and there will be an answer for one's condition. There is nothing wrong with the heart as it is. There has recently come to be a wave of hatred spreading across the world and we may rightly fear where it may lead, but "even though the world be consumed by fire" one will pass through that fire listening to the Dharma. Those whose hearts are full of hatred will bring destruction upon themselves and others, but even they can always turn if they realise their mistake. The apparatus is not faulty - it is how we use it.

Speaking from the heart, I want to say I love the way you express the Dharma and share with us the precious gift of your "vidya-view" on the world and on what's impermanent, giving so much hope and possibilities to find a way to work in a loving way with this life in Samasara, surrounded by the Buddha's and their light. Namo Amida Bu


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