Sunday, February 28, 2010
Subhuti said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, in the future will there be living beings, who, when they hear such phrases spoken will truly believe?"
The Buddha told Subhuti, "Do not speak in such a way! After the Tathagata's extinction, in the last five hundred years, there will be those who hold the precepts and cultivate blessings who will believe such phrases and accept them as true.
"You should know that such people will have planted good roots with not just one Buddha, two Buddhas, three, four or five Buddhas, but will have planted good roots with measureless millions of Buddhas. All who hear such phrases and produce even one thought of pure faith are completely known and completely seen by the Tathagata. Such living beings thus obtain measureless blessings and virtue.
From Chapter 6 of the Diamond Sutra
I read these lines this morning to open a seven hour board retreat for our zen center. In terms of working with issues of institutional sustainability, these words spoke deeply to me. However, looking at them now, what stands out is the emphasis on having faith.
Faith doesn't seem, on the surface, to be a heavy teaching in Buddhism. Partly, it's the word, faith, which is probably associated (in many North American minds anyway) with monotheistic traditions. However, I think if you replace "faith" with languaging like "radical trust," then you can certainly find the Buddha lurking about.
I think it's really hard, in this high paced, violent, heavily materialistic world of ours to develop radical trust. All that talk we do about everything having Buddha-nature and how everything is dynamically functioning together sounds great, but often feels like just nice talk when you spend any time reflecting on the relative world of our everyday lives.
The selection above from the Diamond Sutra above points to, among other things, a quality of time beyond the regular notions of time we have. In others words, it's calling for us to develop a radical patience along with that radical trust, while at the same time doing the work to "plant good roots."
At our retreat today, I felt we did a bit of root planting. And I feel like our sangha is at a point now where we can place some sustained work into enhancing and refining our organization for the long term (instead of simply the year to year way we've functioned for the past several years). A wonderful place, filled with potential.
At the same time, the largeness of some of the topics, and the level of effort required to bring about fruition of some of the projects discussed, is calling for us (I believe) to develop both a radical trust and radical patience. Radical trust that we will find the ways we need to go and be able to come together to do what needs to be done. And radical patience in that we need to renounce completely any attachments to outcome.
I must admit that towards the end of the meeting, taking in the whole of what had been proposed, I, as board chair, felt a deep panic. Just an hour earlier, our guiding teacher experienced something similar, and we both had a little laugh about our shared experience there. Together, we resolved to let it go for the evening - to not fixate on what needed to be done next. I didn't completely drop it, as this post probably shows, but I don't feel panic or anxiety at all right now - only interest (curiousness) in the process unfolding as a whole.
Posted by Nathan at 5:09 PM