Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Remedial Class

I think my task now is to go back home, and fully inhabit it. Not to go flitting off on pilgrimages, crossing strange streams and collecting curiosities. Not to set out to found a Utopia in some far away, unspoiled (until I got there) place. 

No, to inhabit this place, right here, among these people, where we find ourselves now: not because we are perfect, but because we are here. To paint our own houses and plant our own gardens and help our own neighbors. To deal with our own maddening people; to sort through our own garbage. I do not want to live cloistered, in any way. I want to open my heart here, in these dingy, despairing suburbs, under these skies roped with power lines, among these scattered, straggling douglas firs -- these stunned survivors of destroyed forests. Just here.

I of all people to say this! -- I who have been so good at running and hiding. But it is the remedial class that needs to study hardest. When Martha said, "what good is Buddhism if Buddhists behave like this?" -- she says it was terribly useful to her that I said, remember, you come to a church or a temple, not because you're spiritually healthy, but because you're spiritually wounded, because you have a sense of just how bad it is. This isn't the advanced spiritual class, it's the make-up class. These people came together out of their sense of lack, out of their sense of missing something.

Likewise. Not because I know how to stay at home, but precisely because I don't.


nt said...

Ah, dear Dale. This is what I'm dealing with too. Live here. Contribute here. Be concerned about the things around here. Let go of the grandiose and pay attention to small things, right here.

It's hard, because mentally I'm in the habit of thinking large.

Zhoen said...

Maybe you'd have done better to have lived in 22 different places before finding home. She said, from long experience.

I'm not sure I completely agree about the spiritually sick being the only members of churches, but I'm also sure there is a lot of truth there.

Dale said...

Well, when it's Westerners at a Tibetan Buddhist sangha, you don't get that subset of people who are just there because that's what their folks did and their neighbors do :-)

Zhoen said...

Ah, good point.

Kristen Burkholder said...

Ahh Dale. Once again you provide the balm to my heart. Staying put because, I, too, don't... and am not sure always that I've chosen the best or healthiest companions and situations with which to try dedication and constancy.

This is, of course, the problem I've *always* had - surely something better awaits, if I could just get *to* it.

Richard Rohr writes in "Everything Belongs," "The great and merciful surprise is that we come to God not by doing it right but by doing it wrong."

Dale said...