17 February 2012

We Need Saints

I just submitted a title and abstract for a presentation I've been invited to do in April at an interfaith event.  The inspiration for it came from my Dharma brother who visited at Christmastime.

He and I had been talking about Zen in America, the direction some lines seem to be heading in, how so many Dharma leaders end up hitting the skids, etc.  I offered that we needed more robust practice centers, places designed for life-timers, not just temporary residents.

He offered simply, "We need saints."

Ananda could now lower the flagpole; the Dharma dialogue was over.  My Dharma brother could not have been more right.

The presence of men and women who are embodiments of the Dharma gets me off my complacency and prompts me to step it up like nothing else.  A teaching never moves me nearly as much as contact with a person who is that teaching in action.  I can put down the book, and I can tune out the talk.  But when I find myself face to face with a man or woman who has gone farther, dug deeper, seen more clearly, and understands more completely, I have a very simple choice to make: hide or rise

Such men and women live the point where the statements, "everyone is enlightened" and "no one is enlightened," are both of them together true and each of them separately false.  Without such men and women, it's easy to fall into one or the other perspective, each of which is defeatist in its own way.

Such men and women show how to find the point where the markers, "where I am" and "where I am not quite," become one and the same marker.  Without such men and women, it's easy to think either everything's done or nothing's possible, both of which put an end to all endeavor.

Yep.  We do need them.  Lots of them!

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