When we return to our breath one of the things we are doing is we are returning to our relationship with all things.
Maybe we don’t want to even recognize that we are in pain. We are still refusing to recognize how much we are all in pain and how much the world is in pain. But when we can begin to hear the pain that is being expressed through our bodies, we begin to melt, we begin to mourn and grief that which created the pain. And we’re flowing again.
What is at stake? What is at stake for ourselves? What is at stake in my life? What is at stake when I resist? What is at stake when I insist on separation? What is at stake when I don’t know what to do? What is at stake when I am confusing myself purposely? All the time, whatever is going on, in terms of my intention – what is at stake?
Everyone is doing their best, even when we make terrible mistakes. I think that people who do things that are cruel and senseless, the conditioning that they had to endure in order to do those kinds of things is tragic. Not to say that they are not responsible. They are responsible. But there are reasons.
Reverends Konjin Gaelyn Godwin and Taiga Ito visited Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery last September and gave a presentation on Soto Zen International’s mission and its alignment with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The 17 Goals address the broadest range of issues: from poverty and inequity to the health of the oceans and forests. Their presentation was an opportunity for us to develop our understanding and encourage each other’s efforts in these areas.
Reverend Konjin Gaelyn Godwin is the Director of the Soto Zen Buddhism International Center (in addition to being the Abbot of Houston Zen Center), and Reverend Taiga Ito is the Assistant Director. Konjin is also a longtime friend and visiting teacher of the Brooklyn Zen Center.
The combination of precepts and community practice allows us to take refuge in a new relational orientation to the world, to others, to the Earth. And it entails of course vulnerability, literally opening the heart to something mysterious, to another person who I can’t completely know, to a context where I can only see my own perspective.