Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Apt, useful to me, at this moment, Dharma
Subhuti, in a recent essay, writes (edited with American English spellings):
"I suspect that, too often, we tend to think of sraddha only in its affective aspect, and to have an unrealistic idea of how strong that should be. We look for a sort of exhilarating fizz of inspiration, filling our consciousness. But that is not its only or even its most characteristic mode. Faith is not always an ‘obvious’ experience. It can be present as something embedded in our assumptions and behavior, something that is too close to be seen clearly. Sometimes, in moods of critical self examination, we ask ourselves, ‘What do I really want? What am I really interested in? What really inspires me?’ It may appear to us at such moments that the answer is not the Three Jewels. And this can easily make us disheartened, especially if we have been trying to practice the Dharma for a long time. But when this happens, instead of getting despondent, we could try saying to ourselves, ‘Yet, the Dharma does seem true and profound to me. Not only that, but I am still here, still practicing after (however many) years. And if I am here, that can only be because in some sense I want to be here. There must surely be some faith in that.’ In other words, we can try to recognize the strength of the cognitive and volitional aspects of our sraddha, instead of dwelling too much on the apparent weakness of the affective aspect."
When I look at the GFR retreat pictures, the pictures of people on the ordination retreat, over the years, I see a third of the people have been ordained, a third have dropped out, and a third have disappeared and not formally dropped out (maybe). I'm the last man standing, except a few new guys. I've been in this process almost 9 years.
Now you can say that it's harder in North America, away from the bosom of the order. You can say it's harder for someone with a family.
One talk on FBA, the speaker pointed out that people who immerse themselves in the 3 C's still get ordained pretty quickly; Community, Co-ops and Centers--you live in a single sex Buddhist community, you work in a right livelihood business, and you help out at the local center. In this way it's like being on retreat, and yet living a worldly existence. Of course, here in NYC, I would have to start a community, a co-op and have more free time to help out at the center.
Anyway, I think I can be proud I'm "still there," as Subhuti says. That shows some sraddha.