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This engraving really touches me — a lot. It expresses this part of the Bodhisattva Vows where we vow to save all beings, even those trapped in hell-states. This fucking vow is what keeps me tied down to managing a meditation center, and answering for the 87,765th time why our eyes should be open during meditation, how to treat the thinking that was implanted by peoples’ parents and society, etc., when my more “personal” side might long to live as my monk-brothers now do — meditating, reading quietly in the temple, quiet and unscheduled service to others, visiting quietly with meaningful friendships. Not all of this scheduling and postering, posting and “sharing”, dealing with the housing matters of a small commune of good souls whose bathroom and bedding needs end up being the subjects of meetings that I need to have with people. Don’t mistake — I get enormous satisfaction from helping people to wake up to the mystery and joy of themselves. But the accrual of work, out here in the West with basically zero temple-infrastructure to gird this effort, at the age of 59, has become enormously exhausting.

Anyway, I live by this engraving. Running a Zen center? I might do it for another year, maybe two. But living more simply, with less need to schedule and push people to their own innate knowledge, with all of the financial accounting and legal matters that gather for attention, the need for our public-facing ministry to feed the social media gods on such a constant basis, and the constant need to fundraise to keep the doors open — and then be just a little softer of temperament by the removal of business and decadlines, I could be available (and more effective) for others.

Dan Hillier, “Ground”. Based around the figure from an 1880s steel engraving by J. Rogers of the painting ‘Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane’ by Carlo Dolci (1600s).
https://danhillier.com/

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