As I said, this has been a deeply personal journey for me. I am really not sure why I was called to embark on it, but I knew that I had to. There was a truth I needed to discover. A truth for me. A truth, perhaps, for others.
It was a truth that would give me the courage to walk through my fears into joy, a joy that would become my new truth which would guide me inextricably back into the journey. A joy that could not be denied – a truth that I could not deny.
A joy that could not be denied. A truth that I could not deny.
This was a journey that I hoped might inspire others to find their truth. To give them the courage to walk into their fears so that they, too, might find joy. A joy that had the power to transform. The joy that became their truth.
A truth which I found to be expressed in a simple, elegant gesture of Zen – what is called the ensō. A circle, a practice. A way of being.
Painted with a brush, it forms a circle. A graceful circle that is imperfect and incomplete.
To understand that circle is to understand Zen, arguably one of the most elegant expressions of Buddhism.
An expression that began with a flower.
For the root of Zen goes back to a sermon that Buddha gave. It is known as the Flower Sermon. The story goes that one day Buddha sat with his disciples and they waited for his sermon, his dharma talk. They sat and waited. And Buddha just sat there, saying nothing. In his hand, he held a flower, a lotus flower. Perhaps, some thought, he was ill, unable to speak.
And they waited.
And then it happened. One of his disciples understood and smiled. Understood that the beauty of a single lotus flower held the entirety of his teaching. That disciple was called Mahākāśyapa and it was from his lineage that Mahayana Buddhism was born. That lineage that was to be taken to China by Bodhidharma. There, the wisdom of Buddha was woven with that of Laozi to form what was to become Zen Buddhism.
This wisdom was expressed through the simple gesture of the _ensō_, a gesture that tells the story of a path, a learning cycle, where truth gives us the courage to walk into fear to find the joy. The joy that becomes the new truth to inspire the next adventure.
The _ensō_ is also a hole through which something mysteriously flows from a place beyond being – the breath of life the Greeks called _psyche_, Jewish mystics referred to as the _sefirot_ and early Christian mystics called the _pneuma_.
My journey had begun in that library of Franklin High School. When that switch had gone off, something shifted in me. As I spoke at that site council, I felt that I was giving voice to a truth that was deep and real, as if it was flowing through me. It felt like a sacred wind.
What was that spirit?
It unsettled me. But it also empowered me. I could not deny it. It gave me the courage to walk into the unknown, into my fears. I felt I didn’t have a choice.
Over and over again, this journey has challenged me to walk into my fears. But each time, something so profound, so real, so joyful has been revealed, something that once seen could not be unseen. It became my truth that compelled me to venture out again.
And then Jami began to walk with me. She, too, was being empowered by her truth to courageously walk through her fears into the unknown. She was finding joy that could not be denied, joy that allowed her to find her voice, to illuminate her path.
And then I watched as her courage was inspiring teachers and students in her school. It was becoming infectious. It was becoming powerful. It was becoming a movement.
This journey has been challenging – at times extremely challenging. But to see teachers, students and the community find their truth, their voice and their path has been a profound experience – making trivial any discomfort.
A path even found by my daughter, who went on to graduate with a degree in electrical engineering and is now in the process of launching her first company.
The truth of our spirit, our unique human spirit. This mystery that is beyond our comprehension. But a truth that cannot be denied – a spirit that flows through us, that gives us life, that gives our life meaning.
That is my truth. But it is also a universal truth, a truth that makes each of us both whole and part of something much bigger than us. A truth formed by love that unleashes our creative genius. A truth that transforms.
A truth that gives us the courage to continually walk through our fears into joy.
Here we are, dear reader, at the end of our story. Or, in other ways, its beginning.
Please feel free to explore the concepts that help provide meaning for this story in The Garden, following the wandering path of your curiosity.
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