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

Standing Strong in the Realm of Uncertainty

Published on 13/11/15
by randy


I recently heard a quote from the famous interviewer and author, Krista Tippet, referencing a quote from two Jesuit physicists. They had been having a discussion on faith and science and presented the following insight: The opposite of faith is NOT doubt, it is certainty. They referenced how vast the Mystery is. Real faith cultivates the unborn security to stand tall in the face of the unknown. No doubt, each moment is filled with the next unwholesome dividing thought or emotion tied to the poisons of greed, fear and our ignorance to our connection with all things. They create the illusion that we know. Perhaps we attach to this sense of ‘knowing’ and we then elaborate on it, and ultimately either develop anxiety/insecurity about it or we set out to fight others who don’t ‘know’. Yet, real faith is filled with openness to what’s coming up. There’s a cultivated sense of confidence and calm that has us humbled to the bottomless mysteries of life. As we practice with our ‘awareness mind’ we water the wholesome thoughts and emotions of unity, healing from our history of division. Breaking the illusion of our separateness, we water the seeds of kindness, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, dialog and gratitude. Further developing balance and sensitivity to what’s coming up, we’re open to receive the gift of the mystery. For many, this opening comes in our darkest hours. Katagiri Roshi describes this in Each Moment Is the Universe:

If you realize the bottom of suffering, you will find egolessness and emptiness there. At that time impermanence turns into the truth. That is the experience called wisdom. Wisdom is a very deep, profound knowing. It is wonderful. But you cannot stay with the truth you touched because you must be right on the flow of impermanence, constantly one with the moment. If you stay, you die; your life becomes stagnant water. pp. 49-50

He goes on to describe how we must keep moving. Our ‘sense of knowing’ must constantly change as a function within the realm of impermanence and the complexities of our interconnection. He notes that we gain our wisdom from touching (bouncing) the truth of the moment, where there’s no sense of ‘you’. This momentary experience moves and we then return to our dualistic world filled with thought. He notes that when we touch egolessness and emptiness, we find wisdom and truth. When we we bounce back, knowing that we’ve touched it, it’s faith. It’s this faith that has fed the dedicated practice of meditation. It’s how we’ve come to develop a deep spiritual and scientific appreciation for the benefits of holding stillness, freed from the weight and suffering of the dualistic realm.

One of my favorite song lyrics is the old spiritual “Stand By Me”. It powerfully waters the seeds of our belonging and connection. It says that no matter what, we can’t be alone. We can’t not belong. This is what we wake up to when cultivating balance and sensitivity in the face of impermanence.

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we see

No I won’t be afraid
I won’t be afraid
Just as long, as you stand by (in, around and through) me.

So stand by me, yes, stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountains crumble to the see
I won’t cry, I won’t cry
No I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand by me.

So how do we stand tall in the face of such uncertainty? Again, Katagiri Roshi addresses this in Each Moment is the Universe:

How can we live peacefully in this world of constant change? It may be difficult for you to believe, but we should appreciate maintenance and destruction. We are dissatisfied because of destruction, but that dissatisfaction is why we are willing to study and practice. And without destruction there would be no change. The destruction of one moment creates an opportunity for a new moment to arise. Because of maintenance and destruction we can have hope for the future and make every possible effort to deepen ourselves.
Change is the basis of human life, so don’t attach yourself to birth and death, continuation and discontinuation. Just live right in the middle of the flow of change where there is nothing to hold on to. How do you do this? Just be present and devote yourself to doing something. p. 43

He speaks to this fully devoted action as being ‘wholehearted’. When our being and doing are joined from complete alignment of head and heart in full attention we’re meeting the moment anew. This is the creative experience, fed from faith, standing tall in humble confidence to our connection with the mystery. Grounding ourselves in a deeper knowing we stand tall to face and embrace uncertainty, ready for more balanced and sensitive actions aimed to not cause harm.

My son recently told me of my oldest grandson’s reaction to the first snow of the season. He had his snow clothes on before daylight, went out to build forts, walls and snowmen with his school friends, and was totally immersed in the moment. He looked up at his dad and said, “It’s like joy is in the air.” That’s a sensitivity that honors the wonder of the moment. He recognized the beauty that was there, ready to be acknowledged. A deep practice always humbles oneself in gratitude for the opportunity to participate, even in our darkest hours. So stand tall ‘right in the middle of the flow of change where there’s nothing to hold on to’. That’s real faith.

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