There is an old adage in Buddhism that suggests the importance of having a guru, a spiritual teacher, the person we trust to guide us along the path. Then, when our practice ripens and we experience the non-dual mind, everything in phenomenal reality becomes our teacher. I often write about the way elements of nature teaches the Dharma. I suppose the natural world has always been my guru.
I remember when I was young, crouching on hands and knees and looking for four leaf clovers in our front front lawn. I was amazed at the incredible ecosystem in which clover grows—a micro-environment filled with ants, beetles, and tiny bugs with unknown names. I would then roll on my back and look at clouds, noticing all sorts of flying insects and birds darting about in wind currents on a background of blue and white. It seemed there was no real distinction between below and above. The energy felt the same even though the forms were different.
It seemed to me that I held a space in between the above and below worlds. This space was somehow important, that I had a responsibility to bridge the two worlds through awareness and action. My spiritual practice has always been to remember this lesson in every moment. But that awareness is not enough. It must follow with action. The Natural Mind Dharma Center was created from recognizing the importance of teaching others to lovingly enter the space that brings above and below together.
In this degenerating time, the teachings of Buddha must take some form of action. Climate change and other arising phenomena are calling us to embody above and below with creative responses. We must follow the dictates of our natural wisdom mind to heal nature and all ideological, political, and sociological environments. If we are practitioners, we might ask ourselves the question, “What am I doing to be of benefit to others and the environment?” The Buddhist teachings make clear our proper motivation but we have to choose the action.
When Buddha was born, the legendary story says he immediately stood up and faced the four directions in a circular sequence. He then said, “Here I stand between heaven and earth, in this life I shall awaken!” Perhaps today he might add … “and create a plan of action.”