It came about slowly, almost imperceptible—an absence that is less seen or heard, but felt. Like how the swallows’ nests nestled around the perimeter of the monastery one day, stopped singing. And the bustle of keeping the garden and grounds watered, dissolved into the cool shadows of an ever-darkening earth.
Silent and serene, forgetting words, bright clarity appears before you
Hongzhi points out that this great subtraction of autumn happens together with us. As the mind simplifies from the excitement of summer’s full exposure, and begins to tenderly rest in the satisfaction of what is. Have you noticed that the moons in Autumn loom large and luminous in the dark night?
—when you reflect it you become vast, where you embody it you are spiritually uplifted.
Is it coincidence that the leaves too blaze the brightest right before their separation from tree? Is this not, the action of the heart? For the Fall highlights all the places we are stuck—intensifying apparent habits of indulgence, anger and fear. Asking that we let all our emotional holdings and reactivity blaze and then descend—revealing the brilliant clarity of our true heart.
Solitary and shining, inner illumination restores wonder.
Immersed in nature, the schedule and life at the monastery reflect the teachings of the seasons. With the quiet darkening of Autumn revealing excellent conditions for clearing the mind ground, and harmonizing with our essential wholeness.
What is this wonder? Alertly seeing through confusion.
Residency at Great Vow is highlighted by the willingness to be transformed by all that comes towards us. To take each moment as practice. To listen and respond to the complex vicissitudes of life. We make the vow to practice for the sake of all beings.
Through the gate, the Self emerges and the branches bear fruit. Only silence is the supreme speech, only illumination the universal response.
As Brandon Field, a Great Vow resident, currently living and working in Indiana to pay off college debt before ordination wrote to us in a letter: “There’s a lot of us in this world, we all suffer and we’re all going to die. This great heart that we share is totally sincere about saving all beings. Sometimes I think, “Who am I to try to save all beings?” but the heart doesn’t care about that, it just says, “Save all beings, with all your being.”
“Today is my twelve thousandth, five hundred and fifty forth day alive on this planet, and once again, I have failed at saving all beings. Or have I? As limited as a person and a personality is, its actions do ripple out to the universe for all time, and of course the entire universe is also rippling in. The entire history of the universe is rippling through us at this very moment, so how could we possibly say that our dance with the cosmos won’t save all beings, especially if it is our intent to do so? As all beings flow through these finger tips writing these words, may they save all beings.”
When silent illumination is fulfilled, the lotus blossoms, the dreamer awakens.
Part of living a life of practice is shifting our worldview to truly believe that Awakening is possible. That we can live an Awakened life, and that the way we live our life effects everyone. Our Autumn Ango is a precious opportunity to harmonize with season, to let go of what is extra and to deepen commitment to the practice. If you are interested in participating in this 60-day intensive training period—please email the Director of Residency, Jogen Salzberg—firstname.lastname@example.org.