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A Message from Edward Brown of the Peaceful Sea Sangha

Edward Brown link page

April 20, 2011

Dear Friends of the Peaceful Sea,

Each a drop in the ocean, the peaceful sea, we sit here surrounded by friends, including the Beloved. I know that's non-Buddhist language, "the Beloved," but why would we sit and strive, aim and blame, defend and attack, but to show that we are worthy of love, worthy of the Beloved's gaze (just for a moment at least), worthy of being the Beloved, better than the Rest. Resting in the Absolute, resting in Suzuki Roshi's words, in big mind.

And yet meeting the Beloved, being beloved, is not about being worthy!

The love you always wanted, and never seemed to receive, because so it seemed you were not as good as others, not as capable, not as competent, not as loving, not as perfect. One day, though, the seas will calm, and you will arrive on the distant shore. Or perhaps, the ocean, wrathful, will toss you there. Home. At last. For a time.

Your fellows there will honor you, fete you, praise you to the heavens.

Juan Ramon Jiminez' poem (in English) says:

Sometimes my ship has struck something Deep beneath the surface, and nothing happens. Nothing happens . . . silence . . . waves . . . Nothing happens? or has everything happened, and we sit here calmly in the new life.

Tomorrow you'll go back to work, forgetting that you knew for a while that you were always worthy. Again you will look at the world and begin measuring out the worth: How much money do I have? Am I successful? What's with my partner? My parents? My kids? If I was really worthy, they would not be having these difficulties. The world would be a better place. My most-perfect love would assuage their problems, and they would turn to me with adoration, acknowledging how much my love means to them, how it makes all the difference. But they are not doing that.

So we think, I've only gotten so far, and no further. What more can I do to prove that I am worthy, compared with the others.

If I was truly worthy I would not be having these problems: emotional upheavals, fatigue, stress. I just need to work harder to get it right and overcome my resistance to being the good boy, the good girl, that I could be: the brilliantly successful practitioner of the Dharma. If only . . .

Perhaps the worthiness is a bit more hidden than we imagine. "What you look for, you'll get more of it," says Becky Bailey in her well-crafted book, Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline. (I know the cover with a kid sucking her thumb is not that attractive.) When you look for your short-comings, you'll find them. When you look for others' imperfections, you'll find them. Look instead, she suggests, for positive intention. You'll find it. Perhaps a whole ocean of it: the Peaceful Sea.

Finding out what is inside inside is such a fathomless on-going study. Not only do we connect with others in this inland sea, we connect with ourselves, we connect with the world. Precious, what is precious is that inside inside the Beloved is everywhere--and you are that Preciousness too.

And "we sit calmly in the new life."

Spring is blossoming here in California: the wisteria blooms on the car ports and porches, the lilac bushes reach high, the fruit trees whiten (cherry blossoms even in Japan), freesias come indoors to share their redolence, forget-me-nots carpet whole areas.

I'm still working on finding my audience, who will share their heart with me, who will listen and receive and let something work inside. Who will read what I write. Who will take something to heart. Who will sit with me, and cook with me.

Inside inside I feel you there, not a problem, but in the world outside? How does that work? So thank you for sharing your attention with me, and your (occasional) letters. Gossamer threads connect us. Not even threads really, simply an ocean of (in Dogen's words) "infinite characteristics and boundless virtue," your tender-hearted Preciousness.

Warm wishes for the Spring and coming Summer,


PS - If any of you are in the San Francisco area, my sitting at the San Francisco Zen Center for May 1 is half-price special of $30 through the 27th of April. (See Calendar on my website)

Peaceful Sea Sangha 75 Sequoia Rd Fairfax, California 94930-1552 US

DC responds: Dear Edward, Love the beloved, how appropriate for where I am now in Tamil Nadu, the heart of not only Advaita and self inquiry, but bhakti which turns toward the beloved.

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