I've been trying to embrace the course of my day. Physically and mentally. After so much time in bed, in pain, my first inclination is to take an escalator instead of the stairs, the train instead of walking, sleeping a little later. It's not always wrong. I just have to learn to slow down until I'm ready for each new action. Meditation helps. Not in lotus position or anything, but as I walk, I clear my mind, become conscious of the act as I move through space. Today I was thinking, or rather, became aware of the mantra of Nichirin Daioshin Buddhism, nam myoho renge kyo. You can look up all the sites that talk about this mantra, which roughly translates into 1. the entire meaning of Buddhism 2. the name of the teachings of Buddhism (devotion to the lotus dharma, or the cycle of enlightenment) but I come at it differently. Today I think I had a little breakthrough.
It would be a lot to explain, but think of the idea of grace, as enlightenment. Grace is a gift of spiritual or moral vision, of favor or love, if you believe in God. If nam means devotion, or "I devote myself" it can also mean, "I take refuge in" or "I surrender myself to" the lotus dharma, the path of grace. The path of grace is not something readily apparent, you can't always travel on it. You don't always know whether you're on it or not.
I've written about one of my favorite sayings, from a conversation with the guy who runs my local hardware store: there are two ways to do everything, the right way, and over and over again until you do it the right way. This is an essential spiritual teaching, for me. I want to believe with Buddhism, that all roads lead to paradise. That you can struggle all you want against this or that encumberment, but eventually, you will lean to surrender yourself to the lesson.
I heard a woman tell the story of her near death--- that her first words, on coming out of the coma were about herself in the third person. She had been out of her body for so long that her own life seemed to be someone else's. And after all, if we are spiritual beings on a human quest, how can we know who we are outside of this existence? The batch of chemicals we travel in guides our emotions, our thinking, our every moment. Until we are free of the illusion that the person we think we are, right this minute, is who we really are, we can't begin to answer our real needs. I'm not saying our emotions and thoughts aren't real, our physical bodies, too-- they're all real, but they are only temporary.
If I can surrender myself to the path of grace, take refuge in the cycle of enlightenment, devote myself to learning what can't be taught, where will I end up? All I can do for now is stay open to it. I can't fight and force myself past my own abilities and reach the path of grace. I can't stay still and protect myself from life and pain. I can only move along slowly, eyes open to what I might see, and encourage myself to take refuge in the hope that I might be moving in the right direction.
And so, as I walk out onto the street, I listen to the sounds around me, I see each person who passes by, I try to open myself to the day, to devote myself to the path, and take refuge in the grace of its wisdom. If all I get out of it is some peace before I start my day, the courage to walk up a flight of stairs, well, that's not a bad thing.