Saturday, February 23, 2008

Defiled or Immaculate...

Defiled or immaculate,
Increasing or decreasing -
These concepts exist only in our minds.
The reality of Interbeing is unsurpassed.

Gatha for Using the Toilet

After ten years of on/off practice & study, I am still a newborn when it comes to Buddhist philosophy. But it doesn't bother me at all.... what I haven't learned lies before me like a vast ocean full of unrealized treasure.

But I have learned a few things. One is that phenomena can be both beautiful and ugly, even simultaneously. When I first read the words.. "defiled or immaculate," posted on the inside door of the potty stall at Manzanita Village in California, I thought speculating about the beauty and repugnance of human waste was taking things a bit far.

But learning to be mindful and to observe provides many wonders. One is that I can see grace in horror and beauty in danger and destruction. "The reality of interbeing is unsurpassed." I can also see both in me.

We thought an ice storm like the one that hit us here in Kentucky 5 years ago was coming on Thursday, so I dug out the old pictures. This was the first thing I noticed: broken tree limbs, ruined rooftops, and crushed cars filled frames of very gray and ominous skies. At the time we felt as if it were something like the end of the world might be.. so cold... so quiet.. so devastated.

Still, a few of the pictures were taken (by me) in awe of the splendor and magnificence of nature's wrath. The very ice that ruined thousands of glorious trees, pulling them to earth with its weight in ominous cracks like gunshots, was the same ice that glistened and tinkled like precious crystal on limbs of a shrub.

Maybe ministry is just this: a search for the beauty in all of life's terror and sadness and destruction and waste. And in ourselves.