Sunday, May 04, 2008

Day 7: Completion and Return Home

The photo above represents how the yurt looked before the participants arrived.  This particular image was recorded by Rikki Cooke, one of our hosts and a long-time National Geographic photographer and talented teacher (see for more of his work).  The elegant arrangement you see here shifted and changed, was rearranged and reordered all through the week to match the needs of the group and each event - meditation, small group work, mindful movement, and even hula.  Light slowly filled the room each morning and then faded each evening. People came and went.  Many of us were, in alternating waves, inspired and discouraged, joyful and sad, angry and fearful - just like the rest of  life.  But the room was always ready and held it all, along with the trees, birds, and wind. The earth supported everything below us and the sky, with its many moods, nevertheless remained open above us. In the end, we reflected on our week together  and then dismantled the room, put everything away, leaving a clean, empty space ready for the next group.  Unlike the typical Western ethos that suggests we "leave our mark" on the world, the Zen teacher Suzuki Roshi suggested that "we leave no trace."  The "eight worldly winds" I briefly described in the Day 4 entry point to the storms stirred by clinging to the personal: gain and loss, pleasure and pain, praise and blame, fame and obscurity.  There is an alternative, however. We can leave (and live each day) with gratitude and respect, which is certainly how I feel about the Hui and also about everyone who participates here.  In many ways it is a long and challenging trip for most people who travel to Molokai.  I have a profound appreciation for those who choose to do so -who offer themselves wholeheartedly to the process, who discover the benevolent welcome of Mother Molokai, who are reminded of their shadows and contractions of conditioning they thought they had left behind on the mainland, and who are willing to "take the backward step and turn their light inward," as Dogen poetically wrote in his old Zen meditation instruction.  To have the willingness to meet it all with the support of the setting and each other is the beginning of not just personal healing, but of peace.  Without this willingness, we feed the seeds of discord, hatred, division, and ongoing suffering for all.  But, with a simple turn, we save not only ourselves, but the whole world.  Toward this end, I offer the dedication we chanted all week together:

By the power and truth of this practice, may all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow.
May all never be separated from the sacred happiness which is sorrowless.
And may all live in equanimity, without too much attachment and too much aversion,
And believing in the equality of all that lives.

Mahalo  ("Thank you" in Hawaiian)


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