“It is humbling to realize what an immense job it is
to truly accept the task of being human.
There is so much room for growth and improvement, and the journey is endless….
It’s a challenge, maybe even an impossible challenge, but one that all of us have to undertake,
for our humanness demands it of us
and won’t let us settle for less.”
~Zoketsu Norman Fischer
In the middle of the 13th century AD, a Japanese monk called Dogen wrote:
“We do not engage this practice in some heavenly, ethereal mountain-top realm. Right in the middle of the mud and water, we practice dignified presence, and engage the transformative function. And so, we can make a big difference. Your practice is very important, and does make a difference to the world. Just by your kindness, thoughtfulness, awareness and consideration. Right now, this year, is very important to the whole history of the future of the human species. We are living in one of those very pivotal times. Pay attention, and do not be afraid to be afraid. Do not be afraid to speak your truth. We are completely in the mud and water. Take on this wonderful opportunity. Please enjoy the mud and water, but do not imagine that it is not mud and water. Out of this mud and water, the lotus grows.”
Like Dogen, we are living in one of those pivotal times. Right now, this year, is very important to the whole future of the human species. Look in one direction, and we see things which might give us cause to question the intrinsic goodness of human beings. Tilt your head, look again, and we can see innumerable examples of wisdom, strength, generosity, and courage all around us, and boundless opportunities to appreciate the miracle of life, to demonstrate kindness and be of service.
We can only practice from where we stand, right here in the middle of our own lives, right here in the mud and water. As Suzuki Roshi said, “To shine one corner of the world — that is enough. Not the whole world. Just make it clear where you are.”
We practise to develop the freedom to choose our response to the events of our lives, and to the beings who need our presence, our compassion, our clarity and our action. We are supported by the spiritual friendship of our teachers, both past and present, and of each other, right here in the middle of the mud and water… where the lotus grows.