Calling all you Hungry Hearts

Everywhere through endless time.

“Feel the restlessness” Hogen Roshi guides, “I want food. I want comfort. I want to be loved. I want to check out. I want to be right. I want to know. I want to be cared for. I want to be happy. I want wisdom. I want clarity. I want peace. I want…I want…I want.”

You who wander, you who thirst

It is the Sunday of our Annual Segaki Ceremony, an opportunity to acknowledge and welcome with awareness the tender, fearful and covetous heart. To love and accept the restlessness that lies within, always reaching out of experience, craving for something better, something more, something else.

“Ultimately” Hogen Roshi says, “all craving is for the Truth”—to know, rest in, and live from the timeless, spacious freedom found at the core of being.

I offer you this Bodhi Mind

During the Roaring Stillness Retreat we created a mandala of sound. Intoning the Tibetan seed syllable AH! Holding the apparent paradoxes of deep relaxation and alertness, sound and silence, space and form. Instead of kinhin we engaged in the practice of sky-dancing—“normally when we move we are aware of forms, our form and all the other forms, try moving with space” Jogen guided, “like a bird in the sky, like light…”

Calling all you hungry spirits

All the lost and the left behind

To encourage us to recognize, appreciate and open to space we recited odes to Prajna Paramita, Great Mother Spaciousness in a cacophony of voice, melody and pitch. For each person expresses the inexpressible Dharma through their own unique flavor of being, same essence dancing off of each individual tongue, as shout, song, whisper, hum, hymn—celebrating the space that gives life to such expressions. The spacious heart that can hold all pain, fear and loneliness—Mother Prajna Paramita embracing all in love—this is the great reminder that prepares our bodies, hearts and minds for how the world may ask us to serve.

Calling all you hungry hearts

This past weeks precept class focused on the precept of non-grasping, satisfaction and generosity. We explored the feeling of wanting on the bodily level—hands clutching, hearts and minds contracting, pulling in, anus tightening—Jogen calls this the mudra of separation, the mudra of “mine”. Body, heart and mind are not separate, the mudra of separation can be directly challenged by relaxing, softening the chest, opening the hands, looking up, inhabiting space, releasing deeper into direct experience—becoming the mudra of spaciousness, of satisfaction.

“Why does the Genjo Koan say that when the truth fills our body and mind, we realize that something is missing?” Alexa asks in the class. We ponder together, the experience of releasing our attachments to knowing, the losses of identity and sense of self—but still don’t feel as if we entered the heart of the teaching. “Something is missing,” Jessica declares. “We are longing, longing for deeper intimacy, to fully merge with the great mystery, to find meaning in our lives”.

Gather round and share this meal

Your joy and your sorrow, I make it mine.

Maezumi Roshi used to say, “I am completely satisfied, I am completely dissatisfied.” We will never extinguish the energy of the hungry heart, but desires can be transformed into vows. Vows to Awaken for all beings, vows to be a light in dark times, vows to be of service, each of us will make our own vows.

Hogen Roshi continues to remind us with the change in administration, that we are all called to do something with this life energy. Only we know what that is. Only we know what is the proper response. We must give life to this life.

May we continue to gather as community, as Sangha, in faith, in honesty and in love. May we release our self-righteousness and continuously open to the spaciousness of being. May we always remember that satisfaction and freedom can always be found within.

The next Roaring Stillness Retreat will be offered in February.