Here are more thoughts in response to my friend’s long e-mail, after we both attended a three-month silent meditation retreat recently.
Your words are sure getting me thinking.
“You have what we all need, unconditional love.”
My knee jerk response is to say, “Oh no, I’m not that good.” But I need to look more carefully. What’s true is that I have been reflecting on love for something like twenty years. The Buddha essentially said that what we think about, we become. And I see it in my life. How about that, I do have unconditional love bubbling to the surface for big parts of my day. And it’s not that I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread. It feels like there’s very little ego in the territory. I’m just naturally gravitating to love.
I appear to be quite strange. Sometimes in traffic, when I’m facing left turning cars that have an advanced green, I find my eyes getting wet if all of those vehicles make it through before I get to go. I’m just so happy that no one was left out. Wow. Writing this makes me sound like a very weird duck … but so what? It’s true! And what should be my response to wholesome states? As my teacher James Baraz says, “Don’t miss them!” Don’t poo poo them, saying “It’s nothing.” Don’t block them by suddenly getting interested in watching Toronto Maple Leafs hockey games or hiding within the pages of the latest Stephen King novel. They’re here … embrace them.
“I for one would come to all your talks. You could record talks as well and share them via YouTube maybe.”
Not that good, I say. But what voice is speaking? Is it expansive and calm or a whiny contraction? No, it’s the small voice – anxious and fearful of really making an impact in this world.
There’s a sangha near me in London, Ontario. I went to a few of their evenings a couple of years ago but the periods of silent meditation were short and I told myself that there was too much talking. What if back then I didn’t have eyes to see the beauty, wisdom and love in front of me? Okay, that’s it: I’m going back to their weekly meetings. I can be a gift to them and they most certainly can be a gift to me. Over time, I can start giving talks, if the folks are willing. It’s true that I have things to say that may be valuable for some people to hear.
About a week ago, I’m walking down the street, and my quiet, trustworthy voice says “In the very near future, Bruce, you will sing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” a capella (just voice, no instrument) to a roomful of people.” I love that song. I printed off the lyrics and in the last few days I’ve sung it to two people, individually.
This Friday, I’m back volunteering in a Grade 5/6 class. Sing it to them, Bruce, leaving out the verse with a sexual theme. Ask the teacher if she will give me permission to do that. If she says no, look for another environment.
“But they’re too young to hear “Hallelujah”.
“No they’re not.”
“Yes they are.”
“No. They’re not.”
Oh my. What journey beckons? What’s happening to me? What is my gift? What is my contribution?
‘I’m on the road to find out.’ (Cat Stevens)”