Monday, May 02, 2005

Wondering Again

I don't know what she wanted, though it comes in whispers through the half-light of forgotten attics. A father. A teacher. A troupe to dance with.

All good. Can be. Could be.

But each has opposites. A child. A student. A troupe to break with.

No church that's already there will do you much good. It's the church you would make by being there that serves.

As Andi goes in one door, and Paula goes out another, I wonder, again.

There were times when Kagyu Changchub Choling was the loneliest place in the world for me. Months when my heart broke every Sunday night, drawn by the will o' the wisp of community out into the cold, nauseating marshes of my own inability, my own unwillingness, my own unfitness. My aloneness.

It's woven through me now, for good and ill. It might well the last place that ever takes root in me.

I make my three prostrations; my forehead touches the bare wood. I speak hesitantly and unclearly. I light the lamps. Wipe my hands on my jeans. Outside, the shouts of people playing basketball on the street, the knocking of the ball on the pavement. A blare of radio from a passing car. Birdsong.

"Until the summit of enlightenment is reached I and all beings go for refuge . . ." I intone. It's ugly. Unnatural and formal without being beautful. The Tibetans chant these verses beautifully in their tonal language -- we drag along in a monotone that doesn't even scan. Someday some Westerner will make it poetry and find a way to make it beautiful. For now it's only beautiful for what it says, and who says it. There's always somebody bulling their way through it discordantly, and somebody who manages to sing it. ". . . to the Buddha, the Dharma, and to the supreme assembly of the Sangha . . ."

The three Jewels of Refuge. And then the Bodhicitta prayer; ". . . may I realize Buddhahood, in order to help all sentient beings."

It is something, to hear a roomful of people say those words. No, we don't mean them, of course we don't. But we aspire to mean them. & where else could it start?

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