May 03, 2016 10:39AM
By Seijaku Roshi
There is a prayer I regularly offer at the altar in our zendo. It goes like this:
“By the power and the truth of our efforts this day, may all beings everywhere be free of sorrow and suffering and the causes of sorrow and suffering; may all beings be content, and possess the causes for contentment and abundant prosperity. May all beings live in peace. This is our prayer, this is our intention.”
Can you identify the “intention?” Whenever I ask people, “What is your intention?”, they usually tell me a goal or list of goals, or they are unable to identify their intention. Perhaps it is because we don’t know what “intention” really is, let alone its power. Another word for intention I prefer using is “context”. By definition, “context” is a “field of energy”, a “force of nature” which “allows for a peculiar content to surface;” the effect or results of one’s thoughts, words and actions, which is one’s “karma”. Context or intention is ones real and honest motivation; a person’s foundational or core purpose for their life, the real meaning for their words and actions.
Have you identified the “intention” of the prayer yet? Let me help you. “By the power and the truth of our efforts this day…” Here lies the intention or context of the prayer. My intention is rooted in my “faith” which I live by, that there exists a “power” and a “truth” which liberates all beings “from suffering and the causes of suffering” and which allows for or results in “contentment and abundant prosperity.”
Real “intention” is rooted in something larger than my “self” that self which is always egocentric and selfish. In this prayer I am not petitioning for some hope or dream to come true. I am “declaring” that, “by the power and the truth” of living my life for a purpose and meaning larger than my “self”; it is by that, “intention” that the “liberation of all beings from sorrow and suffering and their causes” will be realized.
Thomas Merton wrote, about “Real Christianity,” which is also applicable when defining Authentic Spirituality, and the life of the Bodhisattva or Spiritual Warrior, that:
“True Christianity is growth in the life of the Spirit… (that larger Self I refer to), a deepening of the new life, a continuous rebirth, in which the exterior and superficial life of the ego-self is discarded like an old snake skin and the mysterious, invisible self of the Spirit becomes more present and more active… a renewed transformation, a “Passover” in which (a person) is progressively liberated from selfishness and not only grows in love but in some sense “becomes love.” The perfection of the new birth is reached where there is no more selfishness, there is only love. In the language of the mystics, there is no more ego-self…
The “intention”, the “motivation” of the Spiritual Warrior is always to live by and through faith whether it be in God, Christ, Buddha or one’s own Buddha-Nature: “Faith” being that my singular and exclusive purpose for my life is to “live my life as a benefit” for others. That my true self is “part of a whole” called by me Universe, or God, or Buddha, which is creative, compassionate, all-inclusive and benevolent.
Spiritual practice or “training” is a continuum of transformations, a passing over from one shore to the next, a shedding of one’s habitual or conditioned life for the life which is our birthright, our destiny and the destiny of all of creation.
I Love You.
Seijaku Roshi is the founder and spiritual director of The Zen Society, Pine Wind Zen Community, 863 McKendimen Rd., Shamong, NJ, 609-268-9151, PineWind.org.