There is a line in the commentary to the Kyojukaimon (The Giving and Receiving of the Precepts) that goes, *The Buddha lacks for nothing, yet needs something. The Buddha that is the Field of Merit lacks for nothing and all of us who are engaged with this initiative lack for nothing. All that is needed is present right now. Nonetheless here we are poised and ready to step forward having been awarded charitable status. In our hands is a piece of paper with our charity number on it and between now and the opening of a hermitage door for our first guest is uncharted territory or empty space. It would seem obvious that we now leap forward and ‘fund-raise’ in order to fill that space with the necessary funds. And in a very real and practical sense that is indeed the effort that is called for. The something the Buddha needs. However the way that is approached and implemented is crucial to the spiritual integrity of the project. Now, later and much later.
If you cast your eye up to the banner at the top of this page you will see the main title and under that is written, Unfolding the Buddha’s Teaching. That line, as many of you will already know, comes from the kesa verse recited each morning as a reaffirmation of one’s intention to hold true to the Precepts and unfold the Teaching – for this day. It is a statement of intention and a directing of the toes into our day. Yes one’s day has content and a direction and both are subject to change. In the kesa verse spiritual intention (the word in the verse is wish) meets unfolding. That’s the moment to moment, day to day, month to month and year in year out discovering of the content of the unfolding, as one walks. No wonder it is recited every day!
Opening the door of a hermitage to the first guest will be preceded by this daily affirming of the clear intention, over and over and over again, to put the Buddha’s teaching into action. And specifically to put a hand to making manifest the intended retreat. And so it will be that each person who comes will daily affirm that same intention – to make manifest the Buddha’s teaching in living. Nothing ho hum about it! Why not start now!
I have basic faith that content, fund raising, need not to be hunted for, cooked up or otherwise manufactured. The key is to LISTEN, not just when speaking the verse either. Really listening while speaking the verse and really meaning the words is obviously essential in order to honour practice, however there has to be the basic faith/trust that listening will open up a direction. In our case the faith that the specifics of how to go about raising funds for establishing Field of Merit will come. Call that the Buddha’s influence, call it what you like.
To this end Rev. Alicia and I will be spending time together in a couple of weeks with the purpose of opening ourselves in faith to next steps. When simply encountering empty space (listening and all you hear is silence!) the mind tends to get busy manufacturing ideas. The letting go and returning to listening is the advice I would give at the start of our first retreatant’s stay. Why not start letting go and listening now? Faith is required.
Oh, and if you come up with inspiration that will aid the unfolding in a practical way, get in touch. Please.
*Whoops! I remembered the line from the Kyojukaimon incorrectly. In truth it is: The Wheel of the Dharma rolls constantly and lacks for nothing yet needs something. The basic point is the same though.
**The Kyojukaimon and the Kesa Verse can be found on the Shasta Abbey website. Scroll down the list to find what you are looking for.