Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Grounding Our Awareness in Nature

“Every day, priests minutely examine the Dharma
And endlessly chant complicated sutras.
Before doing that, though, they should learn
How to read the love letters sent by the wind
and rain, the snow and moon.” ……………… Ikkyu Sojun

Ikkyu Sojun was an eccentric, iconoclastic Japanese Zen Buddhist priest, poet and calligrapher. Though he had a notorious reputation as an erotic poet, the practical way to spiritual life is highlighted by the Zen poem quoted above. The grounding of the mental process in what the senses perceive around them in nature is a vital component of spiritual path.

There is a story of Ikkyu Sojun which brings out the depth of his practical spirituality.
Once he stayed in a temple. The night was very cold and there were three wooden Buddhas in the temple, so he burned one Buddha to warm himself. The priest, who was the custodian of the temple, became aware that something was going on, so he looked.
Buddha was burning! -- and this man Ikkyu was sitting, happy, warming his hands. The priest became mad; he said, "What are you doing? Are you a madman? -- and I thought you to be a Buddhist monk, that's why I allowed you to stay in the temple. And you have done the most sacrilegious act."
Ikkyu looked at the priest and said, "But the Buddha within me was feeling very cold. So it was a question whether to sacrifice the living Buddha to the wooden one, or to sacrifice the wooden one to the living one. And I decided for life."

Life in man and in nature is imbued with the Divine. The Earth, along with all that nature, brings to our awareness a strengthening of the inner fabric of existence on which life is based. The story above indicates how we assign a greater value to the representations or iconic imagery of Divinity rather than focusing on the true nature of Divinity which abides in life empowering qualities such as love and compassion. Today the accent is on rituals and recitation as tools for spiritual progress devoid of embedding our consciousness in the abundance of Divine gifts which nature bestows upon us.

God has to be understood as the continuous unfolding of Divine potential in nature.
“Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so.” …..Genesis 1:11
The love letters which Ikkyu speaks off are nature’s energies that actualizes the innate potential in the seed.

St. Paul writing to the Romans says: “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…” ……..Romans 1:20”.

In Chandogya Upanishad in part VI chapter 12 there is discussion on the True Self between Uddalaka and his son Svetaketu. This is by far a very apt example of how Divine nature can be understood. The discussion between father and son is as follows:
“"Bring me a fruit of that nyagrodha (banyan) tree." "Here it is’ venerable Sir." "Break it." "It is broken, venerable Sir." "What do you see there?" "These seeds, exceedingly small, "Break one of these, my son." "It is broken, venerable Sir." "What do you see there?" "Nothing at all, venerable Sir."
The father said: "That subtle essence, my dear, which you do not perceive there—from that very essence this great nyagrodha arises. Believe me, my dear.
"Now, that which is the subtle essence—in it all that exists has its self. That is the True. That is the Self. That thou art, Svetaketu.”

Nature is our best teacher to start us off in the spiritual path.

Love to you all


  1. Sr.Jesurani posted this comment:
    Wonderful thought,
    We are god,
    That is TRUE,
    But we are searching god outside,
    Really you are creating awarness to the society.