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Lions Roar : November 2006
some sort of leap. You may leap like a flea, a grasshopper, a frog, or finally, like a bird, but some sort of leap is always taking place on the bodhisattva path. There is a tremendous sense of celebration and joy in finally being able to join the family of buddhas. At last we have de- cided to claim our inheritance, which is enlightenment. From the perspective of doubt, whatever enlightened quality exists in us may seem small scale. But from the perspective of actu- ality, a fully developed enlightened being exists in us already. Enlightenment is no longer a myth: it does exist, it is workable, and we are associated with it thoroughly and fully. So we have no doubts as to whether we are on the path or not. It is obvi- ous that we have made a commitment and that we are going to develop this ambitious project of becoming a buddha. Then I understood why my teacher had been sorting through his pile of old robes all afternoon; he was looking for the least worn robe to fix and make presentable for me. Tomorrow, for the first time, I would wear a brown robe. In a wavering voice I said, “Respected teacher, let us ask Aun- tie Tu to finish the sewing.” “No, I want to sew it for you with my own hands,” he replied softly. My teacher handed me the robe. I received it knowing it was tremendous encouragement and given with a tender and dis- creet love. My teacher’s voice at that moment was probably the gentlest and sweetest I had ever heard: “I mended this myself so that tomorrow you will have it to wear, my child.” It was so simple. But I was deeply moved when I heard these words. Although my body at the time was not kneeling before the Buddha, and my mouth was not uttering the great vow to save all beings, my heart made the vast and deep vow with all sincerity to live a life of service. From My Master’s Robe by Thich Nhat Hanh. Reprinted with permission of Parallax Press. JOHN DAIDO LOORI’s surprising first encounter with Taizan Maezumi Roshi That evening, one of Maezumi Rosh’s senior monastics knocked on my door and said Roshi wanted to invite me for a dinner of Kentucky Fried Chicken and sake. I went with him and discov- ered a full-blown party. For some reason, Roshi took a liking to me and insisted that I stay beside him through the evening. Some time around two in the morning I finally convinced him that I had to leave. I began cleaning up the mess we’d made, but he stopped me, said it wasn’t necessary, and pushed me out the door. I was surprised and disappointed that a Zen master would leave such a mess, but I was also exhausted, so I let it go. I went back to my apartment and lay down on the couch in my living room. I had barely drifted off to sleep when there was a knock. Maezumi Roshi stood at my door, wide awake and im- maculately dressed in robes, his head freshly shaven. “Roshi!” I exclaimed. “Come with me,” he hissed. It was an order. I follow him back to his apartment. The place was spotless. The low table in the dining room had four bowls and the im- plements for a formal tea ceremony. “Come,” said Roshi, ges- turing for me to sit down. “We will have tea.” He spooned powdered tea into a bowl and whisked it into a froth. “Soen Roshi,” he said, placing the bowl before one of the empty seats. He repeated the process and put that bowl in front of the other empty seat, saying, “Yasutani Roshi.” Yasutani was Maezumi’s teacher, who had recently passed away. The third bowl he presented to me. Finally, he whisked one for himself. The moment I touched the bowl to my lips and took a sip of tea, I felt something piercing, like a long skewer moving through all space and time. It skewered Minor White, Eido, Soen Maezumi Roshi, and, finally, me. I was so moved, tears of gratitude filled my eyes. Embarrassed, I glanced up and saw that Maezumi Roshi, too, had tears rolling down his cheeks. From The Zen of Creativity by John Daido Loori (Random House) ♦ 57 SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 Taking the bodhisattva vow is an expression of settling down and making ourselves at home in this world. We are not concerned that somebody is going to attack us or destroy us. We are constantly exposing ourselves for the benefit of sentient beings. In fact, we are even giving up our ambition to attain enlightenment in favour of relieving the suffering and diffi- culties of people. Nevertheless, helplessly, we attain enlight- enment anyway. Bodhisattvas and great tathagatas in the past have taken this step, and we too can do so. It is simply up to us whether we are going to accept this richness or reject it and settle for a poverty-stricken mentality. ♦ From The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa, Volume Three, edited by Carolyn Rose Gimian. © 2003 by Diana J. Mukpo. Published by Shambhala Publications.