Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops. The Gospel of Luke
This morning I heard someone of the radio recount the story of The Ugly Duckling. She made the point that the story was not one of transformation or change from one thing into another. No, the "ugly duckling" was always a swan but just did not know it. The problem was one of perception, not reality. It is like this for us. Where there is nothing wrong, no problem, we find fault and fail to see ourselves or our world fully as it is. Instead we meet the world with our fixed views and prejudice. So, ofthen with this negative view directed to ourselves we come up with the diagnosis, "I am an ugly duckling."
Thomas Merton, 20th century monk and spiritual theologian said this in a lecture the day he died, December 10, 1968.. .
Buddhist and Christian monasticism start from the problem inside man himself. Instead of dealing with the external structures of society, they start with man’s own consciousness. Both Christianity and Buddhism agree that the root of man’s problems is that his consciousness is all fouled up and he does not apprehend reality as it fully and really is; that the moment he looks at something, he begins to interpret it in ways that are prejudiced and predetermined to fit a certain wrong picture of the world, in which he exists as an individual ego in the center of things. This is called by Buddhism 'avidya,' or ignorance.
At Open Door Interfaith Zen we are interested in exposing that which is covered up by our prejudice, misperception, fixed views. It is all out in plain view, ready to be known. Through spiritual practice, inquiry and koans, we simply cleanse the doors of perception to find that we are swans after all and always were. William Blake in his "Marriage of Heaven and Hell" echoes just this sentiment:
“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.”
No meditation this week. You are invited to attend the nightly dharma talks at the Pacific Zen Institute Retreat at Angela Center, Ursula Hall in Santa Rosa. If you are interested please arrive at 7:15 to be seated. Meditation begins at 7:30 and the talk begins at 8.