Dharma Glimpse my Maurena Grossman
While trying to decide what to talk about I revisited the book Bright Dawn: Discovering Your Everyday Spirituality by Rev. Koyo Kubose. At the end of the book there is a section on the author, which I had not read before. I learned that when Rev. Koyo Kubose, an American who was born in Los Angeles, was young, his family lived in internment camps for two years in Heart Mountain, Wy and Poston, AZ during WW II. Reading this changed the trajectory of what I wanted to talk about today.
When I think of this young boy who, in 1941, was sent with his family to an internment camp by his country. As an American, I can’t help but wonder why there is no accountability of our role in this history. I do not remember growing up with the notion that we sent our fellow Americans to internment camps, nor about the grievances of our indigenous cultures, or how the prosperity of our country was forged off of the backs of slaves. It’s not that I didn’t know about it, there was just not a lot of forethought or accountability to it. Now, today, the separation of families.
I bring this awareness today because Sensei Christopher’s personal journey led him to become a lay minister through the Bright Dawn ministry program. The Venerable Gyomay, which is translated as “Bright Dawn”, Kubose is the father of Rev. Koyo Kubose who is the president of BRIGHT DAWN Center of Oneness Buddhism and our Sensei Christopher’s teacher. This father and son, who were sent to an internment camp on American soil, helped to bring us all here together today.
We are in such a critical time of history and in order for us to progress we need to be able to sit with the realities of our world, while also taking care of ourselves by cultivating resilience and peace in our daily lives.
In the book, Bright Dawn, Rev. Kubose shares an old Buddhist story about a worm that is inside the bottom of a bamboo stalk and how it really wants to get out, but the only way out is to climb all the way to top of the stalk. So the worm starts to climb and gets to a section that needs to be chewed through. The worm chews its way through and finds that it still has a long way to go. With determination the worm chews and chews and climbs and climbs and, still, does not seem to be getting anywhere.
Exhausted, the worm finally stops to rest in the dark. It is during this dark moment of stillness the worm starts to see tiny cracks of light spilling in through the side of the stalk. This is when the worm realizes there is another way.
Rev. Kubose goes on to say
“moving from darkness towards light; that is, from ignorance to wisdom… The first step towards wisdom is to realize that one is ignorant. Thus, wisdom is not separate from ignorance; the two are intimately connected. Stars are seen because the night sky is dark. Not only that but as the sky gets darker even more stars can be seen.”
As I continue to evaluate my own ignorance, I come back to the cultivation of an intentional mindfulness practice through paying attention and finding meaning in the minutia. I find ways to practice daily, through moments such as savoring a hot cup of tea, finding comfort and safety by wrapping myself in a warm cozy blanket, feeling gratitude for the ability to turn on a faucet and access warm water in under a minute. Outside of my formal practices, these daily practices have provided me with greater appreciation and gives me the ability to recognize that we are all interconnected and there is life all around us, from the microorganisms in the soil, to the life found in a drop of water and for the breath we receive in two oxygen molecules. Through the practice of mindful awareness of life around us, we are able to cultivate the Way of Oneness with all things.
Before I end I want to lead us into a brief awareness practice.
I want to read one last quote.
“— the landscape of my life: that dance with despair, to see how we are called to not run from the discomfort and not run from the grief or the feelings of outrage or even fear — and that, if we can be fearless, to be with our pain, it turns. It doesn’t stay static. It only doesn’t change if we refuse to look at it. But when we look at it, when we take it in our hands, when we can just be with it and keep breathing, then it turns. It turns to reveal its other face, and the other face of our pain for the world is our love for the world, our absolutely inseparable connectedness with all life.”