Thursday, November 6, 2014
Photo credit: noesis from morguefile.com
Transfigure is an interesting word.
to give a new and typically exalted or spiritual appearance to : transform outwardly and usually for the better
In a way, it sounds like another attempt to lie. To deceive. When I saw that definition, an imagine of a friend of mine sitting with a plastic smile on her face during an event she didn't want to attend arose immediately. That smile was about hiding; she told me as much.
But when I reflect on transfigure further, it brings to mind the ritual of placing one's robe on before meditation. The rakusu, the kesa - they symbolize the buddha within, and the way of being a buddha in the "outer" world. (Outer and inner are really just distinctions of the relative world.) Placing the rakusu on my head, I chant the following, and then unfold it and place it around my neck.
How great, this robe of liberation
a formless field of merit,
wrapping ourselves in Buddha's teachings
we free all living beings.
The rakusu is just a piece of sewn cloth, and yet if you look at that verse, it's also a transfiguring. Ordinary being to Buddha. With nothing excluded.
In my life currently, I don't particularly like
the slow speed at which my new professional life is unfolding
the often not knowing what exactly needs to be done next
the awkwardness of being a non-driver in car-centric culture
the desire for light in this mostly dark time of year
the conflict avoidance I still give into sometimes
the attachment to political views and anger that sometimes comes from it
the way fears can keep you from taking the important leaps
but putting on that rakusu is an act of transfiguring all of that, without any agenda. It's moves all of this, as well as anything I think is a wonderful or beneficial part of who I am, beyond good and bad, beyond needs of removing or enhancing.
And I can put that rakusu on in every moment if I choose to - but more often than not, I simply don't choose to. The physical object need not be there to evoke the spirit of it.
How do you work with delinquent qualities? Certainly, many of you reading this blog could say meditation, but what a pat answer that would be. All of this I've seen about the rakusu is from my meditation practice, from putting it on my neck over and over again. But it's not just that. Caring for the details of life is an intimate, original practice, different each and every time.