Friday, January 3, 2014
Photo credit: effeebee from morguefile.com
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
What stands out for me here is the emphasis on having faith.
I think it's difficult, in this high paced, violent, highly materialistic world of ours to keep the faith. 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."
Faith and effort tangle together, but for many of us, they remain separate in our minds. Some lean too far in one direction, thinking that all you need is faith. Others think that only hard work and concrete reason will lead to awakening. Neither of those seems accurate to me.
Both, however, feel like natural reactions to living in societies built upon separation.
Perhaps Buddha's speaking of an "end times" of sorts, and elevating experiences of faith in the teachings, is pointing to a place like now. Where things are so dysfunctional and fragmented that "having true faith" is something of a peak experience.
I don't know. There have been predictions of being in the end times of Buddhism for centuries, so maybe what sounds like the end times is really just a description of how life is.
Letting go of what you think is happening - to you, in the world - is also an act of faith. One needed, even for those of us who spend our lives in service and activism.
Maybe especially for us.