We Are All Related (Pg 18):
I found an interesting contrast between the interaction with the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law. In the first, the story says that 'Bankei had listened to all her complaints and her spirits were restored'. In the second, 'Bankei's words set the daughter-in-law's heart at ease'. Sometimes, all we have to do is the LISTEN, and a heart is healed. Other times, a word or two is healing balm. I think perhaps wisdom is learning which to use when.
I have a torn heart with the primary idea here as to how we are all inter-related. In my mind, well, of course we are and we need to respond to others just like they are part of us. But it's so hard not to *separate*. I grew up being afraid of my Mom and her hair-trigger temper, never knowing what slight thing would cause an eruption, or when. I determined from an early age to be JUST like my Dad instead...calm, placid, tolerant. I turn 50 this year, and still dread those moments when my husband will say I've reacted, or done, or said something that's just like Mom. But in truth, we obviously are related, and the deeply dug, very hard dividing line (or wall?) that I spent years putting in place, really doesn't exist at all.
As to extending the idea to objects--this reminds me of a teaching I had years ago when I was with a Nichiren group. They talked about 'sentient beings', which would include living things as we commonly think of them, and grass and bugs (which we don't usually consider *thinking* beings). But, my favorite part was objects as sentient beings, with the example being the flute. The flute is the same on the shelf, or at our lips. But, we think it 'comes to life' when we blow air across the hole. It's really our perception that changes--the flute is the same whether it is silent or whether singing. And, we are connected to, inter-related to, the flute, whether it sits on the shelf or sits on our cheek.
Selfless Religious Practice (Pg 19):
There are a lot of times on my job these days where I get bored, and just don't work as hard as I should. I wish that they had a bell or a block in my office, so that I could have that external reminder to begin the task again! When we 'do this' instead of 'doing that'--well, for me it's because I want to do this, or don't want to do that. It's selfish. In those moments where I am able to transport zazen from the cushion to the cubicle...and just DO whatever comes up next, without attaching to anything, but flowing from one file to the next...those are really wonderful days.
The idea of instant obedience is interesting. I would be interested to hearing what our friends with military training have to say on this one. I suspect that's part of the training. For me, in a way it goes against the training I've had at work in matters of 'efficiency' and 'time management'. Always finish a task before starting a new one. it's more efficient to do one thing at a time, and not have several incomplete tasks, or jump from one to the next and back. BUT--is any task ever really complete? We just move from one phase to another, and one aspect of a project to the next, but when the boss, or an emergency, or something calls and says 'COME'--we have to drop and go. Seems like there must be a balance in here somewhere, and I'm not sure my thought is clear on this one.
I love the thought of practicing so hard we can 'break through the floor'...could that even be possible? Such determination! But in the very midst of that focus--to still break away when the bell rings and it's time to eat.
The other thing this brings to mind is the Christian reverance for Mary, as the 'woman who said 'Yes' to God'. In our selfless practice--isn't it about saying 'yes' to others? To the Triple gem? Are we willing at every moment, to say "YES" to Life, and eventually to Death, as they come barreling towards us?