It took awhile for the horrendous events of last weekend in Orlando to settle in. It just seems to be too much to absorb and then it gets personal.
Now, I am overwhelmed. Today listening to the radio there was a reporter talking about those who had died in the massacre and hate crime in Orlando. For me, when names and faces and stories and lives begin to get attached to tragic events it is like a tsunami, the enormity of what has happened washes over me, a wall of water, and I am overcome. I imagine my children as victims and begin to climb into the sorrow, the unimaginable grief of family members and friends. Their pain becomes my own. I begin to wonder if there is sanctuary, a place to safely live a life. Doubt, the handmaiden of faith, comes to keep me company. And then, the tears come, the sobs of one alone. By some mysterious alchemy the heart then begins to reach for community, for what makes sense, for God, for a foundation that holds.
What I am experiencing now can't be too far from the experience of others. Empathy is at the heart of spiritual life. We all need a place to enter the depth of life, a place to confront the sorrow, the doubt and the fear. And, everyone needs this, those with and those without faith.
What follows is a koan from Guishan. It is about questions and answers, the search that is our life.
A frustrated student begged Guishan, "Just tell me!" Guishan replied, "If I told you, later on you would resent me."
We are all on a spiritual journey. All of us, whether we know it or not. We only get in trouble when we realize it. Once embarking on the journey, the hounds of heaven nip at the heels, the gnawing need eats at us. At times like this, there is no where to go but into the mystery. This has meant dark nights alone gazing at stars, sensing the dark within, wondering, praying, hoping.
When I was in my twenties I remember vowing that I would not rest until I "knew." This has led me to search far and wide, to pursue religion, to search out teachers, techniques and states of consciousness. I have longed for spiritual freedom, for meaning, to know that somehow I was a part of it all, whatever it all is. That's the nature of it for me -- I can't rest. I know what this student is about, "JUST TELL ME!" Shouldn't this be easier than it is? Just Tell Me!
When his student confronts him with this demand, Guishan is forever kind, "If I told you, later on you would resent me." Each of us walks our own path. If I told you, probably it would not work out, it would just hang you up. We walk our own paths, come to our own awakening, the light shining in our own particular lives. "If I told you later on you would resent me," says that my path is not your path, my frustration is not yours as we make this journey home. BUT, we can do this together, meditate, converse and share.
When something becomes clear we can share what we can -- but it is not that we shouldn't tell, it is that we can't. What is good for this goose doesn't work for that gander, and vice versa. And besides this mystery is bigger than words. How could one say? The most we can do is point out the direction, and support the practice. God/the Universe will take care of the rest.
Events like Orlando have us call out, "Just Tell Me!" Such heinous acts thrust us into the frustration of needing to find the answers, to put it all together, to find our minds at rest. However, we can't pull an answer off the shelf -- no one will give it to us. Our search is our own, we move along, step by step our trust alive in our movement, our reaching. What I have found is that life rises to meet our feet, that something not imaginable nor predictable holds us - eternity herself finds us. "What do I do now?" some will ask. You will know.