The Trust in Mind Sutra so often chanted at FCM Sangha meetings is about having deep trust, right here, right now, Roshi Hogen Bays of Portland, Oregon, told attendees in a four-day retreat on the Verses on Trust in Mind held recently at the Tampa Practice Center.
Roshi led extensive periods of sitting meditation and various practices of getting in touch with the body and physical sensations as a first step toward building the foundation for deep, calm stillness of mind. You can trust that the earth is supporting your body, always, he said. You can trust in your clear luminous mind to always support you, too, he added.
Roshi is a Zen priest of the White Plum Sangha of Portland, a leader of the Zen Community of Oregon in Portland and co-abbot of Great Vow Zen Monastery in Clatskanie, Oregon. This was his second year of leading a retreat at FCM in Tampa by invitation of our teacher Fred, a Dharma brother of Roshi under Philip Kapleau at the Rochester Zen Center in the late 1960s.
The evening before the retreat began, Fred and Roshi held a dialogue about their experiences for the benefit of the community.
"It all starts with our own body, knowing all sensations are just flow. It's the flow of energy, just the tingling vibration of life. We are nothing but experience," Roshi said.
His meditations delved into the direct experience of sensations within the body and the experience of being alive "from the inside out." These sensations take us back to a place of forgotten direct experience before we learned speech, before our Buddha minds were hidden beneath layers of adaptations, projections and illusions that now cause us to suffer. This body of sensation is pure awareness, Roshi said.
His guided meditations and Dharma talks were filled with pithy humor and wisdom:
- Look around. What do you see? Are your problems here? Is your rent here? Are your taxes? Not unless you bring them here. Bring only your presence. Right here. Right now.
- Always start meditation with the body. Anchor yourself with the breath or your hands/legs/torso, from the inside out. Become aware of the presence of the whole body with its tingling, pulsing, internal sounds, moisture. You may want to start with feeling the hands; they rest in tingling aliveness.
- Stop arguing! About governance, the environment, with reality!
- Concerning the bodhisattva vow to save all beings: That's big. The good news? They don't need saving. They are perfect as they are! So relax.
- No stories! Body still. Mind still. Come from a place of stillness. If it's not happening right now, in this instant, it's a story. It happened in the past.
- Everybody is doing the very, very, very best they can. Things are perfect just as they are (They are arising from causes and conditions causing them to manifest as they are).
- What about the children who are imprisoned on the border? Each of us can do only what we can do, and so we pick what we can touch and we do that. Some of us can do something large; some of us can do something small. That is what the universe asks of us, that we decide what we can do, and we do it out of a calm, loving heart-mind.
- If fear arises from what we discover when we open ourselves up, the answer to our fear is to serve others.
- If we're not afraid of ourselves, we're not afraid of anything else.
- There are good times, there are bad times, but there is a place of trust that is always, always there. Meditation is resting in that foundation of trust. We can actually feel that knowing of love that is always there.