With the start of this third year of August Meditations I see that, sadly, our world seems to be in more conflict than 2013. But I don’t think anyone should lose heart. We should continue with our daily practice as it does make the world a better place. We should continue those actions that bring happiness to each other and ourselves.
On a personal level, I see this past year as one of refining and deepening last year’s statement that, “I am Pure Consciousness,” so that it reads, “I am awareness.” Whereas the former was more a statement of intellectual knowledge, the latter is an assertion of an unfolding inner realization that seeks to re-establish my inner identity as awareness, instead of as the objects that lie therein. Part of this involves realizing that the thoughts of my waking life are no more real than the dreams of my nocturnal one. Some progress has been made here but much work still lies ahead.
Realizing one’s true identity takes, according to the Mahayana or Great Vehicle teaching, “hundreds and thousands of eons.” But, as Eihei Dogen, the founder of the Soto School of Zen, wrote, “You experience immeasurable hundreds of eons in one day.” The eons he speaks of are comprised of the immeasurable present moments, or now, experienced each day. It is here, in each absolute present moment where all of creation exists from moment to moment, that enlightenment unfolds in your daily life.
As your personal enlightenment unfolds you should take heart in that it contributes to the eventual full enlightenment of all of humanity. As Dogen said, “your practice affects the entire earth and the entire sky in the ten directions. Although not noticed by others or by yourself, it is so.” So, even when your practice is weak, continue to practice with the assurance that you are helping humanity.
Practice is more than just sitting in meditation. Practice includes accepting whoever you meet and whatever arises as part of your path. It is here in your daily life that you have the opportunity to develop patience, love and understanding. It is here you uncover inner obstacles to expressing loving-kindness and compassion. And it is here that you can work through those obstacles to bring greater happiness to others and yourself.
Tomorrow will not come for many that live in the world’s conflict areas. One day it will not come for you. That day may be today or it may be many years off. Regardless of how much time you have, don’t waste today’s opportunity to practice and through it make the world a better place.