Yesterday at prison Tony, Ed, Chip, Brandon, and I chatted in room transformed into zendo waiting for Chris and Doris to arrive for Friday practice. We speak of love. Of God.
Tony brought it up, telling of crossing letters with dear friend on outside, both exploring the matter from two directions. In the conversation, like fledgling Tibetan monks hand-slapping in debate practice, or young Yiddish שול shul students pausing before stickball game to clarify a point, we have begun pre-practice. Something occurs that feels a new understanding of an old koan.
If God is love why is the fear of God beginning of wisdom?
Two methods enable us to rectify the heart:We conclude this pre-practice wondering. It is a wonder to us that, in prison, aside from the Christian men's group at their monthly Kairos gatherings, nobody says to another "I love you!" (Agreement all around.) It is a frightening thing to hear or say -- and not only in prison. We are a little afraid of love.
The first is study,
Enriching our mind through practice
And discipline; training, studying
Until an inner light begins to grow within.
This seed of consiousness,
The sages teach, should be nourished
And kept in silence.
The second is the cultivation of virtue.
A sincere student discovers the
Workings of Tao by overcoming all
Manner of temptation.
Hordes of riches are outweighed in
Merit by a single word, Virtue.
- Loy Ching-yuen 1879-1960's)
But when we become aware that we are afraid of love we begin to notice what is there and what is not there. This noticing is the beginning of the path that points to wisdom.
If God is love, and I am a little afraid of love, I am a little afraid of God, afraid to love and be loved. Perhaps ignorance of this condition, or refusal even to acknowledge the possibility of behavior confused about this subtle equation, is the metaphoric prison surrounding so many of us.
May the light of your soul guide youChris and Doris arrive. We sit.
May the light of your soul guide you.
May the light of your soul bless the work
You do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light and renewal to those
Who work with you and to those who see and receive your work.
May your work never weary you.
May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration and excitement.
May you be present in what you do.
May you never become lost in the bland absences.
May the day never burden you.
May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your new day with dreams,
Possibilities and promises.
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected.
May your soul calm, console and renew you.
(Poem by John O'Donohue, 1956 - 2008)
The morning is lighter.
A calming, consoling, renewing silence of awareness sits alongside.
Something pre-pronouncing has poised at origin of sighting words looking at nothing in particular merely accepting the sangha and loving the inward breath it's new choice recognizing what is wordless said.