The universe isn’t simply happening, the dharma wheel isn’t simply turning. The Buddha’s words turned the dharma wheel. The dharma wheel turns because it is both an eternal truth and turns, but also turns because human activity, acting out the dharma, is turning it. And both those things are happening simultaneously.
Often we feel the need to create our own shell, with our muscles, with our bodies, with our actions. But when awe are offered a container safe enough – a protective container – we can begin to release and let go of the shell, let go of the hardening of our muscles, of our ideas or our thoughts.
We are sitting at the center of the ten directions of this Earth, we are sitting at the center of the dharma wheel, we are sitting at the center of the spinning cycle of samsara. We are sitting at the center of them all and allowing the dharma to arise, allowing the dharma to be present with the dukkha that is this wheel out of balance.
In the way of the Buddha, karma is always in the background. It’s like the little key that unlocks all these teachings. When you kind of understand that, as I’m sure many of you do, when we understand that karma is such an important teaching, it unlocks all these teachings. This is the teaching of karma.
[We can think of] these arising traumas, these beings as I like to think of them, as survival strategies of our ancestors. So fear, anxiety, anger, rage, or joy – these are blood memories. And we all have them, we all carry them. And if we can open them up, see and work with them, we can transform them; we can see what the wisdom is there for us.
Practice is taking that step time and time again and slamming again and again into the reality that the world is not built for me, around me, by me alone. That my story is just that – a story. And that there is a reality that I am a part of, that other beings are a part of, and would not happen without all of us.
We are in a time where being able to take refuge in each other, being of service to each other, being a community that can rely on each other – this is something that we put forward, and that we understand that zazen is certainly important, our ritual practice is certainly important. But our sangha is the thing that will allow all of that to be. And that our deep service to each other will really be everything.
Sometimes that Buddha ancestral connection is represented between a teacher and a student – which Dogen talks a lot about – but it can be represented by our relationship to the Buddhas and ancestors we don’t see right in front of us, that we know came before us. And so we speak to them about what it is we wish to renounce and what is we wish to manifest, and we ask for their support.
This practice, this way of understanding, this way of knowing, is crafted in such a way that we have access to freedom in each and every moment of our waking hours. The freedom that I am speaking to is the freedom from the conditioning, the freedom from being reactivated in response to conditions or persons or circumstances. The freedom to be who we are, unafraid. The freedom to be able to meet whatever comes our way with a magnitude of heart and wisdom. To know in that moment what the action may be or not be. Where we want to direct our energy — not in reaction to something but because we want to be engaged in contributing in the lessening of suffering for all beings.