“What do we trust in?” is a pinnacle spiritual
question. In order to surrender,
or let go of control by our so-called mind and “I”, we have to trust in
something. What is it that we
surrender to? I’ve noticed in my
teaching life, that when I ask people about trust, often I hit on a
stumbling block with a blank stare looking back at me. Often people say, “I can’t trust, or
I don’t know how to trust, or that’s my problem.”
Well, it’s pretty obvious to most of us that we can’t
entirely trust in the world, in people and in appearances. The world of appearances is filled with
the three poisons of greed, anger and ignorance. Sometimes, our closest people have betrayed us. The world as it appears in conditioned
reality and ordinary life, is filled with unpredictable and often unexplainable
occurrences that definitely go against how we wish things would be. Because
of our unfulfilled desires, we suffer.
When I was teaching recently at the prison sangha, The Unpolished Diamond Sangha,
one man laughed at me and said, “You might be able to trust out there, but in here, that’s
seems almost impossible. There is almost
nothing and no one that can be trusted.”
That has stuck with me. How
to respond to that? Is there
something unconditioned that we can trust in?
Katagiri Roshi often said, “We are living in peace and
harmony.” How can he say that when
in reading the paper every day or watching TV or online, we can see war,
poverty, disease and natural disasters at any moment and everywhere we turn. How can we say that when often our own
lives feel very out-of-control and filled with distress? At that moment, is
there something we can trust in?
Buddhist practice has a lot to teach right there at that
moment of questioning. In order to
trust, we have to find a connection with the perspective of life that is larger
than our personal desire systems.
We have to feel connected with peace and harmony, or the total dynamic
working of the universe, or universal perspective. We know that things are working in that largest sense. The sun rises in the east and sets in
the west every day. Our hearts are
continuously pumping, our neurological system is working underneath our
consciousness in every moment.
Astronomy or any of the sciences really points to the incredible mystery
of life that is working in peace and harmony underneath the surface conditions
of our human stories.
In order for a human being to cultivate trust and the
ability to let go, we have to stay connected to this harmony that is beneath
the appearance of things. We do
this in Buddhist practice by stopping, pausing, and reconnecting to universal
consciousness or the Big Mind as Dogen sometimes calls it. This is hard to do. We can deepen our understanding of this
underlying harmony through meditation practice and through mindfulness
practices; of stopping, interrupted our storylines, and reconnecting to that
which is continuously working.
This is the meaning of taking refuge. I take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and
Sangha. Often I translate this as,
I trust in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
I can let go of my desire system’s manipulations for the so-called right
outcome according to ME. I can
return to trusting in something larger than myself; cultivating
interconnectedness and feeling absorbed by the larger harmony.
We can cultivate in ourselves:
Trusting in the process of our awareness and
Trusting that I am Buddha
Trusting universal functioning or basic goodness
Trusting the “knowing quality of the mind” –
that part of our mind that is connected to universal functioning, to DNA, to
Trusting in cause and effect. We can take good care of the smallest
seeds of wholesomeness. Being devoted to taking care of the wholesome seeds, we
can trust that there will be a wholesome result, sooner or later.
This requires moments of quiet and contemplation in order to
reconnect. These pauses can be a moment of conscious breathing to a longer
meditation period. Without these
interruptions in the stream of the activities of life, the momentum of the
stories are too strong to break through.
So, we practice, interrupting the stream of appearances and reconnecting
with silence and the universal harmony.
This is the practice of letting go and trusting, of taking refuge.
Labels: 3 refuges, Big Mind, interrupting the storyline, Katagiri Roshi, letting go, surrender, total dynamic functioning, trust