Multifaith Prayer Room

Multifaith Prayer Room

One day, I was working on a piece of writing for my studies in the university library and was aware of a strong ripple of anxiety coming on, as the deadline fast approached. I was also aware that my writing wasn’t going to be up to scratch if it were written by the anxious version of me. My meditation cushion waited in my bag, I used to carry it around a lot to facilitate and take part in meditation groups in various places. There’s an idea! I thought, I could set aside a half hour for meditation… in the library! I had my cushion, I had an urge, the library was a quiet (enough) place for it, but where?

I had a wander. I had heard of the library having a prayer room, but I had never thought to use it. I didn’t know what the situation was in terms of using it; could anyone use it, at anytime? I assumed so, it was called, at least in one sign, a multifaith prayer room. But even so, did that mean at the same time or did it have to be booked, at least in some casual but polite way? I found it eventually, and without seeking an answer to these questions, I ventured inside with my cushion underarm.

The room was small, tiny, I dare say smaller than most rooms I have ever been in. It didn’t feel too small though, a huge window took up one wall and made the room alive with light. I shut the door behind me. There was a lock. Should I lock the door? I didn’t lock the door.

I place my cushion in the centre of the very square, very small, room; assumed the posture and began concentrating on the breath, after a body scan. Standard meditation procedure.

I don’t time meditations usually, and didn’t this time, but some time into it the door opened. A fellow student entered the room. I turned slowly, aware of my movements, attempting to maintain the awareness that had been cultivated thus far.

The young man was a Muslim, and he asked quietly if he could use the room for prayer. I nodded and moved to the back corner of the room, aware that he would need more space for prostrations. It turns out the room planners didn’t consider the orientation of the room very well as in order to pray in the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, the chap had to lay in his prayer mat diagonally in what was already a small floor space. I don’t think he expected me to stay, I think he expected me to leave. I resumed my posture and centred my attention to the breath once more, but this time the young Muslim was in the centre of the tiny room prostrating and uttering phrases under his breath.

I’m pretty sure he had no idea what I was doing, or why, and I hadn’t the faintest idea what he was uttering and why. Nevertheless, in that room, with an assumed capacity limit of 1, there were 2 people creating an atmosphere. He left before I did. But, as I looked back on that moment, I realised that my meditative practice was not less because of his prayer, and I like to think my presence offered something a little different to his noon prayer. I don’t like to try to verbalise precisely what we were offering each other, I don’t think it would do it justice; but, maybe, his praying was offering me to contemplate humility, and my mediating was offering him some balance. He was moving a lot, I was still; he was speaking, I was silent; he was reaching far out, I was reaching far in.

But then again, maybe, maybe he’s thinking, what was that weirdo doing just sat in the prayer room. 

Monkey Mind: The Bell

Monkey Mind: The Bell

In, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out. *cough* in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out,  in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out,  in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out,  in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out,  in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out,in, out,  in, out, it must have been a good ten minutes by now, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out,  in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, we’re only sitting for 15 minutes are we not? It must be getting close. I wonder if he’s forgotten to ring the bell after 15 minutes. in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, is he not keeping track of time?! what if he’s so zen right now he’s forgotten time. This may never end! out, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, next time I’ll ask to be in charge of the bell ringing, in, out, in, out, in, out, in, outin, out, in, outin, out, in, out, in, out, in, out, just have to wait for the bell, then this meditation is done, in, out, *drops noting*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ *BELL RINGS* damn it, it was just getting good. 

This was a comically inclined Monkey Mind Monologue, hope you enjoyed it and thanks for visiting the blog 🙂 

-dharmacaterpillar 


A Totally Ordinary Buddha

A Totally Ordinary Buddha

Zazen cultivates clarity and in time, the illusory nature of phenomena breakdown, allowing an experience of limitless, boundless peace. There is no other, no me or you, no being or non-being. Enlightenment has unfolded. Congratulations. What now?

Dissolve into infinity, and continue.

Realise the True Self, and continue.

Become One, and continue.

End, and continue.

 

The Enlightening process shouldn’t end in the World of one colour, the unified field, Oneness. To even consider this would be a mighty shame. To come back into the world of observances, and go on, continue, is the imperfect perfection of a totally ordinary Buddha.

 

 

The Allthing

The Allthing

Sometimes, I like to call it the Allthing. It has a certain mystery about the word that I like and maybe also because it mimics Odin’s title of the Allfather. I think though, it is because it is the perfect antidote to Nothing.

The Allthing is not just something, or just a thing, it is the Allthing. Some people like to think nothingness is the ultimate truth, or oneness, and I can accept these words and talk using them to those who prefer to use them. No problem- appropriateness is paramount in discourse. But, for me, reality isn’t nothingness, it is at least something. And not quite oneness because although there is a fluid interconnected matrix forming a oneness, All is a word that fits this better, and the use of “the” beforehand reinforces the connection of the components of the all into the one.  All here refers not just to all the things of existence, but all the thing of potential existence. All really means all, as a thing. Thing keeps the vagueness, the mystery, about the infinite and paradoxical nature of what we are considering here.

“Just as a reservoir is of little use when the whole countryside is flooded, scriptures are of little use to the illuminated man or woman, who sees the Lord everywhere.” – Bhagavad Gita 2:41 

“But now a great thing in the street
Seems any human nod,
Where shift in strange democracy
The million masks of God.”-G K Chesterton, 1900

Dissolving into Infinity

Dissolving into Infinity

Our relationship with the senses is vitally important. The senses by which the human condition functions aids one to navigate the terrain of existence and place ourselves in this complex web.

What if these abilities were no more? Plunged into no inside or outside, no boundaries, or reference points, no hard things? No things.

Like a vial of salt crystals, each with their own rigid shape, hardness, identity; each one individual. Plunged into the water, and with the input of energy, crystals dissolve, boundaries broken down. Still no crystal has left, yet there are no crystals there.

In our every day form we are crystallized, in a crystallizing reality. In this, there are limitations, there are beginnings and endings, there are hellos and goodbyes, there are hugs and embraces, there are punches and brawls, there is sensual pleasure, there is pain and anguish, there is life and death, there is you and I…

I ask you this: once dissolved boundless and infinite, are these aspects still present? Has reality changed, or perspective?

 

A week in Hell #05

A week in Hell #05

Terror, if you subscribe to it, will open up the Gates of Hells. You may be sucked in. For playing along with those living in Hell, or bound to it, will suck you in. There is no need to suscribe to terror, what are you scared of? How helpful is that fear to accessing happiness and liberation? 

What to do then with those exercising torment unto themselves and others? Completely stuck. They believe the only way to escape Hell, may be to dig further into it. That, I suppose, is the delirium of those without groundedness, those who create their own noise. Unaware that silence is the ground of being, and that being silent is to recognise emptiness as empty of a defined, fixed self, freedom could not be further away even though they’re in it. 

There is a large emphasis on what the family of a person, dying and destined for a Hell realm, can do in scripture. Empowered to do. But let’s widen scope, let go of family boundaries and fixed, rigid concepts of death as the only opportunity for rebirth. What can I do now for those of Hell anywhere and anytime? To me, that is more pragmatic, more to the point and of the moment, more useful. The answer, for me, lies in boundlessness…

To sit with love for love and of love.

Maybe one of the best, pragmatic thing we may do living a contemplative life is to meditate on True Love, on the Four Immeasurable Minds “brahmavihāras”.  If we cannot love ourselves first, free of guilt and, and just plainly free. To love is to understand. To understand is to listen deeply, in silence of mind. Listening deeply to ourselves, we learn to listen deeply to others, the cries of the World, the screams of Hell. Then we can act in a way that nourishes ourselves and others, with equanimity we wish to soothe  the torment of those in Hell. 

That’s the aspiration, and there have been moments in my life when I felt I was in some way close to this, but the bar is set. We know what must be done, for as long as there are those suffering in Hell, suffering will beget suffering, and samsara will continue to turn. 

“If with kindly generosity

One merely has the wish to soothe

The aching heads of other beings,

Such merit has no bounds.”

-Shantideva 


Thank you for reading,

-dharmacaterpillar