Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A habit?

Empowering no
rifling pages in life book
Finding hidden grace


In December 1999 I left the pervasive fear of Y2K in America for a vacation in South Africa with my family. I prepared myself for the new century just around the corner at the feet of His Holiness the Dali Lama in Durban. Six hundred people listened in the hotel ballroom to the Q & A session. Someone asked, "What is it that reincarnated?" His answer, "our habits" has haunted me ever since.

His Holiness spoke eloquently of lifetimes of studying the dharma. That he "a simple Buddhist monk" created such a strong "habit" of his intellect and practice that it would reappear each lifetime. The image transmitted gently in the back waters of my consciousness was of a smiling humble monk cradled in the words of the dharma. How I longed to be sitting next to him!

What "habit" of my ancestors was so strong that it appears within me? Fear is the resounding answer. Fear of fire, fear of committed action based on faith, fear of torture, fear that constricts my throat and does not allow my voice pass. How can someone uproot such a ensnarled mass of fear?

My recent travels have bought the idea of gentle cultivation based on the belief in the permeating existence of grace. Acknowledging the valid roots of the fear and seeing what nurturance will loosen the constriction. How can fear be turned to the second definition of habit as a distinctive protective dress or costume?

Practice, Practice and Practice.