In my eyes so much of Western Buddhism amounts merely to ideas and techniques and lacks real heart compared to Buddhism in Asia. Western Buddhism is young, precocious and perhaps a little immature in this respect. At a time of crisis this can be particularly apparent and has been expressing itself in the monastery to some degree. Luckily, as the pandemic has been looming closer, things are changing in the monastery from a bit of a heady response – working out what to do, or how to think about the whole thing – to more of a heart response. The great-uncle of one of our community members is fighting for his life against the virus right now in Holland. This fact began to really bring things home to us. We will put a picture of him and his wife, also sick, up on our shrine and dedicate our practice to their welfare. This kind of response is all we have when there is nothing more that can be done or said, and it is very important for that very reason. In this way our regular routine of chanting opens up to hold and carry these events without us being changed. This helps us in turn to open up to these things, for them to really come home to us, without shaking our lives too much.
It is a nice phrase actually: to ‘bring something home’, meaning for us to realise the full reality of something. We can be welcoming these realities into our hearts, offering them a home of compassion, and growing in kindness and wisdom as a result. Then, ultimately, all our insights, all our samādhi will be a heart response, a radical opening of the heart.
I offer this for your reflection
Since this text was written, the great-uncle who was mentioned has passed away...