• We just held our monthly skype Study Group, which is a sort of casual Dharma study focusing on Pureland texts and teachings, mainly by Dharmavidya but also including some other Buddhist writings. This was a very helpful session for me, enabling me to connect with the international Sangha and take refuge in the three jewels of Buddhism as we discussed the Dharma and paid homage to the Buddhas. We spent some time looking at one of the chapters of Dharmavidya’s book ‘’Zen Therapy’’ which takes a look at the concept of Interdependence. ‘’Each dimension of Samsara is conditioned by the others… these same fundamentals are coterminous… When one ceases, they all cease.’’ This feels particularly powerful to me at the moment and particularly relevant to my predicament in this unusual new way of life that is emerging day by day.
      The book talks about how changing one of the key conditions in our lives can radically alter circumstances, undermining the powerful hold that our habit patterns can have on us. It gives an example of how when we remove an element such as an addiction from the landscape of our world, potentially a whole series of other elements ‘’die’’ with it. This reminded me of my former life when many parts of my life were dependent on my addiction and the behaviours that it entailed. I didn’t realize this at the time and just assumed that if the addiction problem went away, all would be fine. In reality my life became unrecognizable in quite a short space of time as many of these things, work, relationships and living arrangements fell away, no longer having been supported by the fruits of my dysfunctions. This opened up a whole new area of potential for me. New causes gave rise to better conditions to support a completely new way of being in the world.
      This principle is relevant to my current circumstances for the same reasons. Key elements of my daily routine have been removed, such as work and certain social activities and although they haven’t been replaced by anything that resembles normality yet, they have made space for other things that wouldn’t normally be possible. I have been able to practice formal meditation more freely and extensively and have been able to pursue some of my interests, such as reading, writing and music more fully than normal. I have also been able to identify certain emotional and psychological needs and patterns that might otherwise have gone unnoticed and respond to them in a more spacious and attentive way. As usual there are challenges such as time management and finding structure so that I don’t get lost in all of the space that this unlikely state of affairs has created in my life. It seems to me that this is all part of the new phase of the ongoing spiritual journey that I’m on, whether I like it or not.
      It feels as if permanent change is fast becoming reality and as I have found out over the last decade or so, change brings opportunity. Even if the change is not of a desirable nature it bears the seed of growth and can bring revolutionary transformation both individually and collectively. Spiritual practice is a way of embracing this new reality and opening ourselves up to whatever comes and the potential for bringing love and compassion into the world. By staying grounded in faith it is possible to present a sane and balanced response to an extremely difficult set of circumstances and to demonstrate that there is something beyond the fear and the struggle that cannot be taken away from us and can keep us steady no matter what!

      Namo Amida Bu!

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