It’s been wonderful to have time to paint this week, continuing with the Quan Yin statue of the Kauai Soto Zen Temple in Hanapepe. She is emerging from the canvas and I can vouch first hand, she had quite a tailor. There are many folds in the stone clothing she is adorned in. Much work to do still, but it is a good start and momentum is fully established.
I don’t know the history of Quan Yin. It is easily found out I am sure. I’ve always felt her serenity when seeing images of her and simply know her as the female Buddha of Compassion. My spiritual Master, Adi Da Samraj, dramatically showed this to me on one particular occasion, an occasion I will describe if you allow me a little meandering till we get there.
My Beloved Guru passed from the body last year around this time. Many spiritual practitioners will tell you how fortunate one is to have or to have had a living Spiritual Master so there was a natural sadness with this passing, yet the relationship is still completely alive and full.
To those who aren’t inclined to such a way, it’s a head scratcher, I know. You’ll find no attempt here to convince you in any direction about it one way or the other.
However, having the good fortune to be in relationship to Adi Da since 1976, I can unreservedly agree with the gratitude many others have expressed about such a relationship.
Why? A good Spiritual Master will not allow his or her students to get complacent or abstract in their practice. Those are two things that are extremely easy to do when you are going it alone. A Master will give you lessons- sometimes verbal, sometimes in meditation, sometimes experiences simply unfold to deliver what you need to righten yourself when your spiritual wheels need re-alignment. They can be sweet and nurturing, or forceful and demanding- whatever works in the moment. This is called the “skillful means” of the Master. Since most of us westerners prefer the sweet and nurturing (and immediate gratification) to forceful and demanding and persevering it is no wonder Spiritual Masters are not the hottest ticket around in the western culture.
In 2000 I was on retreat here in Hawaii. During that retreat there were many occasions of sitting silently with Adi Da, times where he would transmit his own state and actively work with those in front of him to loosen up their obstacles to receiving that transmission. If the term “transmission” confuses you, think tuning fork and sympathetic vibration. Something humming at perfect pitch tuning the wonkier instruments to the right key by the very act of it’s own vibration. The wonky ones simply get vibrated to perfect pitch. What’s the perfect pitch of the Spiritual Master? What’s prior to “point of view” ? What’s prior to the sense of separateness? What’s prior to the you who experiences? Words don’t work to well to convey that – Spiritual transmission does.
Much can go on in a sitting, or sometimes not much at all. There are many factors involved. In your practice,discrimination grows. In the end experiences are just that, a conditional passing that has little to do with what is Unconditional. What is Unconditional and Prior to point of view reveals itself to you. There’s nothing you can really do to earn it. In the paradox of conditional existence, however, gifts and lessons are imparted and can serve to sensitize you to what is greater than your self.
Towards the end of one sitting during the 2000 retreat, my eyes were closed in contemplation. Spontaneously the eyes opened and there before me, standing upright on the chair where Adi Da was sitting just seconds ago, was Quan Yin! She was strikingly beautiful, dressed in white and radiant beyond words. Her radiance was visually bright and the feeling touch of that radiance was utter unconditional compassion. That compassion completely enveloped your heart, held you with unreasonable love, bathed you in it, then let you go, the same radiance turning to the next person. This all occurred in a few second yet seemed much longer during the happening. In the background of awareness surprise was registered, yet the experience was such that it was still completely natural to close the eyes again and come to rest in that given gift.
When I opened my eyes again, Adi Da was back on his chair. Yet now he appeared exactly as he looked in 1986, fourteen years earlier. This was a time of such fiery, fierce teaching and much ( read: much needed) criticism of the spiritual practice of his students, that many people, including myself stepped back and took a break because it was just too hot in the kitchen too long. In the moment of seeing him like that again , what came from Adi Da was not the unrelenting force of the criticism I couldn’t deal with before, but rather the same overwhelming, loving compassion just given by Quan Yin. Yet it was a fierce compassion, just as unreasonable in it’s loving but moved to serve the student or devotee in ways he or she might not understand on the surface or in the moment. This is something I may have intellectually known but now it was being tangibly communicated. It was also made clear that not truly understanding this before resulted in a level of me self-armoring against the transmission of the Master and further growth. He chose a moment where I could heart receive his transmission to tacitly instruct me in something that would have been too confrontational and not as effective with words.
The lesson was not over. As my eyes closed again, all reference to the room and the sitting occasion was gone. I was the proverbial “mouse in the pocket” brought along for whatever reason to witness a further remarkable demonstration. When my eyes opened I was seeing the back of Adi Da as he looked out over what I sensed to be a single country. My focus was on him, there was no physical reference of a country, only an intuitional one. As Adi Da gazed over this place I could feel him in touch with all the negativity, sorrow, anger, death, difficulties etc, all churning in the psyche of its collective inhabitants. He then did an amazing thing. He drew all of that darkness in a single breath into his heart and there it burned off in a bright light of love, and in his outgoing breath, breathed only unconditional loving and healing into all those people. This didn’t happen just once, but three times. Three different breaths, standing before three different locations. Each breath not more than two seconds.
Then the sitting occasion was over and I was rather abruptly aware of the room as it felt like my butt was thrown “thunk”, back onto the floor of the meditation hall. Necessary to get me grounded once again I would imagine. Kinda hard to put all the contents of a package back together once you take it apart so it helps to have the package aware he is indeed put back together again.
A lot to chew on here.
And most wonderful to put it into words and to feel it all again.
Thanks for taking some LIP from me.