Retirement

Medicine Buddha - healing with light energy

Medicine Buddha – healing with light energy

In times gone by, it was the tradition in China and Japan for Buddhist monks to withdraw from their public role in their 58th year. The 58th year in Buddhist astrology is known as kakumei, which literally means ‘revolution’ but actually refers to a complete change of life from being focussed outwardly in the public mundane realm to turning inwardly to focus on developing deeper spiritual awareness. This is my 58th year and so I too am following this ancient tradition by retiring from my public role as a Buddhist priest and spiritual advisor to a life of contemplation. This ‘revolution’ is a shift from the masculine energy work of ‘doing’ to the feminine energy work of ‘being’.

I will now turn to practicing more deeply the skills that have been taught to me by my teachers. This requires a lot of time and inwardly focussed energy work. It is the time for Yin practice: drawing inward the feminine energy of darkness, coolness, moonlight and solitude. I want to continue my dream yoga practices and to perhaps to one day express the visions I receive in art. This is following the way of the 13th-century Buddhist monk Myoe and also the way of the Christian mystic Hildegard of Bingen, both of whom painted their dream visions. These paintings then were used as amulets for spiritual healing and I hope that one day I can do the same.

I believe that a spiritual practice is useless unless it is lived fully and completely and honestly. My public role has been a vital part of my own practice, but it has also been very exhausting for me because I am not very skilled at replenishing my spiritual energy efficiently. I always felt that I just needed to try harder! But this effort was misguided and did not acknowledge my own deep nature which requires a great deal of quietude and solitude to replenish the deep wells of spiritual wellbeing. Recently I have come to realise that I am not going to be much help to anyone if I continue to ignore my own nature.

I am beginning to understand that my most effective role is that of the contemplative: I know that in the past many prayers have been answered when I adopted the role of the ‘prayer vessel’ and offered prayers along the Kannon Pilgrimage route and in Wabi’an. Whilst I have always been so happy to know that my counselling skills have been useful, it is my contemplative prayerful role that fills me with joy and peace. And this flowing of joy and peace is what I am able to offer to heal the world in my own small way.

I want my spiritual contribution to the world to be what comes from my heart as I fully embrace my practice. When, for example, I walk through the supermarket, I know that if I am balanced in my own spiritual energy, then I can radiate a healing to whoever I pass by. This is the result of living practice, of being the embodiment of practice. It is nothing special but at the same time it is the very foundation of healing, joy and authentically living.

So I hope that you will forgive me, my dear fellow pilgrims, for seeming to have abandoned you! In our very masculine energy Western society, it seems that unless we are seen to be doing, then we are not active agents in the world. However, there is great healing in being: being fully present, being fully aware, being authentic. By its nature, being is formless: it does not have a shape, a label or job description. But being has an energy: in the same way that science tells us the greater part of the universe is made up of mysterious ‘dark matter’ (the ultimate feminine energy!) that cannot be experienced by the physical senses, so being is an invisible expression of spiritual energy. Very difficult to describe in words, which are physical entities! It is this practice of being that is to be the focal point for my own spiritual practice that I wish to nurture and develop more strongly.

Once again, I feel the need to withdraw from the cyber world: I have found social media and the internet to be very useful tools but also, for me, sometimes quite overwhelming. I might wander back some day, but for now please know that you are all in my heart and I send you all my warmest blessings. My gratitude to you knows no bounds, as all that you have taught me has brought me to this place that I feel is my truest calling. I bow in deepest appreciation and thanks.

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Being Gratitude

Offering prayers at Warrungup Spring

Offering prayers at Warrungup Spring

Meditation:
Breathe in beauty; breathe out gratitude
Take a moment to look around you and allow your eye to settle on something that strikes you as beautiful – the view out the window, the way the light glances off a surface, your own reflection in the computer monitor. Feel that beauty with your body, breathe it in. How wonderful it is to be touched by beauty – realising that something is beautiful fills our hearts with a deep emotion that includes peace, happiness, calm, connection, and gratitude. Feel a sense of gratitude for being blessed with the presence of beauty and, as you breathe out, feel your body respond to that gratitude in a gentle sigh.
Breathe in beauty; breathe out gratitude
What are the blessings in your life – yes, count them 🙂 And with each blessing remembered, breathe out gratitude. After a short while, your whole body will be feeling a gentle soft tenderness that is simply ‘gratitude’ without an object. Rest a while in “being gratitude”.
Breathe in beauty; breathe out gratitude

2013.01.20.01Gratitude is a blossoming flower of spiritual practice. When we feel gratitude, our hearts open up like a flower opens in the nurturing warmth of the sun and we are no longer isolated and alone – there is a profound recognition of connection with another person, a recognition of our interdependent relationship with something and everything that is beyond our narrow framework that defines “me”.

This is the key lesson I have gained from my own spiritual practice, and “being gratitude” was the central focus of my training in preparation for the Womb World initiation given by the Dalai Lama in Japan in April. I have tried a number of times now to write about some of the intense realisations that I experienced during that trip, but each time I have not been able to capture the essence of those experiences in words. I think it will require a book! So many small steps along the path, since I began practicing in the Buddhist way twenty-five years ago after my bout of cancer, which seemed to culminate in a profound moment of understanding and recognition of the blessing that is simply being alive. This recognition released a flood of gratitude to all the people who have helped me in my life, and all my ancestors’ labours that led up to the point of my own existence, and all the people, animals, plants, wind, sunshine, earth…all the entire cosmos somehow working together so that I might live. How profoundly humbling!

Fishes in Warrungup Spring

Fishes in Warrungup Spring

It has been one hundred now since the Dalai Lama initiated me into the Womb World. During that time I have continued to practice the rituals associated with that initiation, including reciting 10,000 mantras each day. Over this one hundred days I have also continued to offer the prayers that were entrusted to me and yesterday I went down to the sacred Warrungup Spring and made a ritual of reciting the names of petitioners and finally offering up their prayers, which marked the end of that prayer cycle. The sun came out just as I offering the last name and seemed to fill the world with light and blessings.

This active, yang cycle is now complete. Now it is time for me once again to withdraw into a passive, yin cycle that rests, reflects and contemplates.  In honouring and nurturing our spiritual lives, it is essential to carefully balance the yang of outward-flowing energy that is active, with equal amounts of yin practice that draws energy inward and is passive and quiet: to rest in gratitude. Therefore, I will not be engaging in my usual public Wabi’an events for the time being. This means there will be no Kuan Yin Day in August. Thank you for your understanding.

Breathe in beauty; breathe out gratitude