Saturday, April 23, 2011

DIARY 137 - The Rituals of Faith

The last couple of months I've been working on the text and form of the upcoming Wesak at Windhorse event -Unfolding Of The Lotus, to celebrate the Buddha's Enlightenment. It's still three weeks or so away on the 17th May. We are now in the finalising and preparation phase, of making what is planned come into being.

During the fortnight prior,I've organised a collective project to
install a stenciled Lotus border around the Stupa Area in the Warehouse. This has two discreet stages, first, over 200 lotus stencils need to be cut, and second, these are formed into stencil and sprayed onto the warehouse floor. Currently I'm working out how to set this collective action into a ritualised context.

The morning of Wesak is being conceived as a long processional sequence of storytelling. At various stages we'll stop to hear an aspect of the Buddha's journey towards Enlightenment, plus verse and chorus responses adapted from early suttas. I'm hoping it will be quite rowdy and cacophonous should people let their hair down, as we spiral from the Shrine Room to the Stupa Area, inside and outside the warehouse. Once completed, there will be a Meditation and Sevenfold Puja to conclude. It sounds simple, but the logistics of how to successfully move 40+ people around is proving difficult to imagine. Inevitably it will have its chaotic moments. I have my periods of anxiety about this, but mostly I'm excitedly looking forward to it.

Paradoxically, in amongst all this creativity devising Buddhist
rituals etc, I've found myself really struggling with where my spiritual life is currently at. The imperative to just keep going, and get on with all the various projects I'm involved in, overrides a level of spiritual ennui I've not experienced in quite this way before. I'm generally feeling tired - of meditation, or applying myself to Dharma Study, and dare I say it, Buddhism in general. Even Dogen, my usual source of refuge and inspiration in barren times of spiritual struggle, doesn't quite match or elevate my mood. I've definitely come to the end of something, but what, if anything will take its place I really cannot tell. If you don't know how, or what it is you've lost, its hard to know where to start looking to regain, or rebuild it. I guess its this aspect of not knowing, of what I could be doing to help myself, that makes it most disconcerting.

As a result, much of what I currently do is like a book without its binding, nothing is there to hold all its individual pages together, to prevent them blowing away. Though what I'm doing is no doubt spiritually beneficial to others, it feels empty of the personal Sraddha to give it a more transcendent purpose. Having let go of a long held view that I could find a creative vocation, I launched myself on a more selfless vocation last year, to put what talents I have entirely at the service of Buddhism, the business and others. Now, it may be that my vision for this has run out of steam, the process maybe incomplete, or flawed. It could be I'm undergoing some sort of reaction to this decision, or I currently lack the depth of practice to sustain it, or I'm not sufficiently grounded enough. Whatever it is I'm experiencing a feeling of alienation from what I'd previously 'set my heart upon.'

My confidence that all this will eventually work out, wavers from day to day. So I have my moments of quiet despair, after which I just pick myself up and carry on devising rituals as if something in the doing of this will provide the answer I'm seeking. I hope that I am right.

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