Monday, April 13, 2009

Day 100 - A Ferry Ride With The Buddha

Well  this is it the 100th day of Dharma. How did that happen?  That might be my cue to talk about impermanence but I don't think I will.  A hundred days can pass and we hardly remember what happened between then and now, such is the fleeting nature of life. I love this quote attributed to the Buddha, "This life of separateness may be compared to a dream, a phantasm, a bubble, a shadow, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning."  So how important are all those little things that go on in between then and now.  I'm thinking about the things we fret about; mostly gone without a trace.  That's instructive for how to live our lives, don't you think?

But that's not really what I want to talk about right now.  My bedtime reading has been the Dhammapada for the last little while (I'm still on the intro!).  Last night I was reading about "Turning the Wheel of the Dharma" and it felt like it had some significance in terms of my 100 Days of Dharma.  That's what we're doing here aren't we, turning the wheel of the Dharma, thinking about our lives in terms of the Dharma, considering the teachings of the Buddha and then adjusting our daily course according to what we find and what it seems good to do.

After his enlightenment when the Buddha was questioned about who he was he answered "I am awake" (budh, from the sanskrit root, to wake up).  When he started teaching he said:  "I have found the deathless, the unconditioned: I have seen life as it is."  And really isn't that what we're aiming for, the truth, the end of suffering when we practice.  To see our lives like the movies or dramas they are and watch them, unattached, with joy and amusement and sometimes with a great big hanky.  That is the aim I think, to be passionately involved in life and at the same time know that it's all okay.  Haven't we simply been inspired by figures like the Buddha to believe that it is possible to attain this state.  They say that he was pictured as a ferryman asking the question, "Anyone for the other shore?"  Man I'm interested in one of those tickets! 

And what's the fare?  Well it's not cheap.  And the seats?  Best in the house.  The meditation cushion.  Such an important thing to remember, that the key to practice, to attainment is sitting, the foundation of all our work with the Dharma.  How did the Buddha attain Nirvana, not from talking or reading, or wandering, or thinking but through disciplined  sitting.  He sat through all the assaults of Mara, through desire and doubt.  Without the sitting we won't make much progress and even with the sitting it is a lifetime process.  So I am thinking about the important things today and sitting is one of them.  And I think part of why I decided to write 100 Days of Dharma is for the discipline, which is the same as getting to the cushion, doing what needs to be done, over and over and over.  Building that muscle to do it whether we feel like it or not, whether we are tired, or depressed, or grumpy, or sick, or ecstatically joyful, or filled with unrest.

And why do we study the Dharma?  Why do I sit?  Well I think we always start with the wish to free ourselves from suffering.  And as time goes on, whether consciously or unconsciously we are adding to the compassion in the world, we are sending off little threads of wisdom and compassion without even knowing it, kind of like little human prayer flags.  We contribute to the world in a positive way.  Just by looking at what we do and making choices, active informed choices about how to live our lives.  And perhaps as time goes on our presence becomes a little calmer, more grounded and just our energy contributes in a positive way to the world.  This is what we are doing I think, one person at a time, one day at a time, one breath at a time.

So while 100 Days of Dharma have passed, I will continue to write about life and the Dharma as things come up that seem important to me.  It has been interesting to see that I was never really stumped for a topic, that something always presented itself, though I often wondered if it would.  Maybe I'd run dry like an old well and just cough and choke and sputter out some letters of the alphabet and embarrass myself in public (maybe I have and I am too dense to notice!)  So it has been a real privilege to share a 100 Days of Dharma with you and I expect we will continue to visit as we all have purchased a lifetime ticket to the other shore.  May your journey be a good one, filled with joy and sorrow and passion and gusto.

Bows to you all.


  1. You have touched my heart and inspired me in so many ways beyond words...

    With much gratitude

  2. 100 wonderful days. Thank you so much.

  3. 100 Thank you's for reminding me that the work to be done is really on the cusion and not "out there".


  4. congratulations ... and now wash your bowls :-). you wrote ca. 77,000 words over 100 days. daishin