Blue-collar Bodhisattva Vow (A poem about real life practice)
From where I'm standing, it suddenly seems so clear.
Not clear like the clean up after an accident on the highway; the kind that removes the major obstacles and allows traffic to move along quickly.
But more like the kind of clear that exists at the heart of a deep, tropical pool.
The kind where the dust and muck have settled and allow a stunning and unobscured vision of just how far down the bottom really is.
To hold your breath and dive in is the task now revealed.
There is no question that the journey is going to be difficult.
The pressure and the strain on the body are just as relevant now as they were before the water was crystal.
The only difference is an unwavering trust in the way-the practice.
The dive is the practice.
The breath is the practice.
The strokes and the kicks and the frightening silence are all the practice.
When the metaphors are dropped and the poetry is stripped away, I can see that my tiresome job is the practice.
The ache in my back is the practice.
The shovel and the pick and the rake are the practice.
The callouses on my hands and the sweat in my eyes are the practice.
The struggle to keep myself from toppling over in the heat, or crumbling under the weight of paying rent and raising a child are all part of the practice.
The toils of daily existence are the greatest teachers we possess.
These are the living waters that our growth truly depends upon.
Conflict is the withered old Sadhu smearing ash on our nose and cheeks.
Pain is the ancient shaman shaking her rattle and moving our feet.
At the moment, this is all I have.
There is no temple.
There is no Himalayan cave.
There isn't even a tropical pool that I can dive into and wash the concrete off of my forehead.
All I have to learn from is right here in front of me.
And for now, this is enough.