just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness

The Flower of Life Blossoms

Published on 23/08/12
by randy

“As long as a man ‘wakes up’ and lives as the Universal Self, he always works in the direction where the Universal is alive.  Everything we confront is our life.  Because of this, the aim is to make all things, the world, people, affairs, etc., live as the Universal life with the attitude that the Self is taking care of the life of the Self.  I live within your life and the Universal lives within my own life.  This is because you and I and the Universal are living out the life which pervades everything.”

“…the flower of my life blossoms when I work to make the flower of all the world, people and things which I now face blossom, and when the flower of my life blossoms, the flower of Universal life blossoms.  Likewise, the flower of your life blossoms when you work to make the flower of all the world, people, and things which you now face blossom, and this is when the flower of Universal life blossoms.

On the other hand, there is the attitude which stifles Universal life.  People see themselves as simply one individual in a world which is only a place to compete for existence.  They think that the law of survival of the fittest is the truth, compare and rate themselves against one another, and in their competition try to kick each other down the ladder.  There are winners and losers, but the winners degenerate in their own extravagance and the losers go from frustration to neurosis.  They end up without even being able to make their own flower blossom.  The flower of Universal life can never bloom here.”  from Approach to Zen by Uchiyama Roshi

As a Zen Christian, I tend to resonate more with the use of the words God or Divine.  If this is the case for you, can you read Uchiyama’s words with this insertion and see what it does for you?  When we ‘wake up’ to the Divine within All, we necessarily ‘work in the direction’ where the Divine is alive.  The Divine lives in all and pervades everything.  Consequently, we’re blessed to be here, now, doing what we can to water the seeds of joy for ‘all things, the world, people, affairs, etc.”.  Just as the Declaration of Independence grounds our country on “reliance to Divine Providence”, Uchiyama captures this ‘big hope’ experience of faith in directing us to ‘live as the Universal life with the attitude that the Self (Divine, God) is taking care of the life of the Self (Divine, God).  This surrender into the mystery that is so far beyond our words and reason is what real faith is about.  It’s a reliance upon the glory of this moment’s gift, no matter what.

Jean-Pierre De Caussade, a Jesuit who wrote in the early 1700’s, wrote in ‘the sacrament of the present moment’ the following:

“God is Everywhere.  A preoccupation with God tells us unconsciously that all will be well provided we leave him (Self) to do what he (Divine) will, and live by faith alone.

Everything proclaims him (Divine) to you.  He (Source) is by your side, over you, around and in you.  Here is his dwelling and yet you still seek him.  Ah!  You are searching for God, the idea of God in his essential being.  You seek perfection and it lies in everything that happens to you—your suffering, your actions, your impulses are the mysteries under which God reveals himself to you.  But he will never disclose himself in the shape of that exalted image to which you so vainly cling.”  p. 18

He speaks beautifully to moving past the limitations of our images and language, impositions which have cost us millions of lives, fighting our various religious wars.  Brother David Steindl Rast has spoken about ‘making space to find the gift in the given’ and de Caussade captures this in his continuation of the above thread:

“O Divine Love, conceal yourself, leap over our suffering, make us obedient!  Mystify us, arouse and confuse us.  Shatter all our illusions and plans so that we lose our way, and see neither path nor light until we have found you, where you are to be found and in your true form—in the peace of solitude, in prayer, in submission, in suffering, in help given to another, and in flight from idle talk and worldly affairs….finally the futility of all our efforts leads us at last to leave all to find you henceforth, you, yourself, everywhere and in all things without discrimination or reflection.  For, how foolish it is, O Divine Love, not to see you in all that is good and in all creatures.”   p. 19

When we cultivate the ‘feeling’ of the Divine in all things we’re able to develop the attitude of Self (God, Divine) taking care of the life of Self (God, Divine).  Our panic to act relaxes.  We move into resonance with God, harmonically aligned in faith to ‘just be’.  Another French Christian theologian, Jacques Ellul, has captured this in The Presence of the Kingdom when he writes:

“Our attitude towards the problem of the end and the means leads us to take up a position which is wholly revolutionary; it is actually a radical change in the perspective of human life.  For Christians the first ‘consequence’ of this new position is this:  that what actually matters, in practice is ‘to be’ and not ‘to act’.

Our world is entirely directed towards action.  Everything is interpreted in terms of action, nothing is more beautiful than action, and people are always looking for slogans, programs, ways of action; indeed, our world is so obsessed by activity, that it is in danger of losing its life.  We know that the great slogan of all dictatorships is this—action for action’s sake.

At the same time our world tends to eliminate, almost wholly, the life of the individual.  By the formation of masses, by the artificial creation of myths, by standardizing our living, and so on, there is a general movement towards uniformity, which leads man more and more to forget himself as he is caught up in this general tendency of our mechanical civilization.  A man who spends all his time in action, by that very fact ceases to live.  A man who spends his days rushing about in his car for hours at a time, at a speed of sixty miles an hour, has the sensation of living on speed, of intense activity and of ‘gaining time’, but actually a mental torpor creeps over him–he becomes less and less alive; more and more he is simply an automaton in a machine, he has reflexes and sensations it is true, but no judgement, and no awareness of anything beyond.  In the perfect working of his engine he has lost his soul.  Thus we are all suffering from a weakness which may become a serious disease.”  pp. 90-91

This concept of ‘being’, cultivating awareness to our interdependence with All, seems to fly in the face of many cultural American traits now being pushed.  The push to dismantle health and education safety nets, to promote pride as a positive virtue at the expense of humility and grace, to push competition over collaboration, and to feed the greed of special interest without thorough examination of ‘who gets hurt’, these are symptoms of the ‘serious disease’ Ellul speaks of.

Our suffering deepens when we separate.  We can try to rely on our smaller circles of belonging, lining up with those who think like we think, or look like we look, or have blood lines or location similarities.  Yet, to live this way is to be uneasy because we all know there is disappointment and challenge down this road.  Ultimately, lasting peace is found in deepening faith that All is gift, God is in everything and everywhere, and we can rest in peace knowing the Self is taking care of the Self.  Katagiri Roshi calls this ‘big hope’:

“In this unity, you give energy to your activity as object, and simultaneously you accept lots of information from your object.  That is called total functioning—cause and effect are one simultaneous action of input and output.  You give and receive information simultaneously.  That is communion of heart with heart, going constantly, in and out.  At that time your activity becomes Buddha’s (Divine) activity;  time becomes supreme time, beyond any concept of past, present, or future; place becomes supreme place, beyond any dualistic concept; and person become supreme person, who is melted into the universe (Divine).

That situation is unknowable with our consciousness.  It’s impossible for me to express it in words.  But maybe you can feel that this it true.”  p. 145 from Each Moment is the Universe (insertion of Divine by me)

So as our culture spends more and more money trying to get us to choose sides, to diminish our circles of belonging, and to build confidence in their myths, perhaps it’s critical time to just let go our anxiety about ‘fixing things’, about pushing our particular point of view, about locking into who’s right and who’s wrong.  Maybe some good old spiritual wisdom will get us once again to start asking, “How can I help?”, “How can we cause minimum harm in stewardship to what’s been given?”, “How can we humble ourselves in the glory of God (Divine, Self) with the aim to let the flower of our life blossom when we work to make the flower of all the world, people, and things which we now face blossom, knowing that this is when the flower of Universal (God) life blossoms.  This is Big Mind, this is Open Mind, this is reliance upon Divine Providence.

This is trust, faith and freedom from neurosis.  It’s my sincere hope you’ll make space to touch stillness, to rest in the Divine present moment, in glory to the gift of the given.

That's it. What Next?

Please leave your comment so we know what you think about this article. Trackback URL: The Flower of Life Blossoms.