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Roshi has told Sozen to not believe in sickness. I was thinking about Mother Teresa whose main practice was to see in each person the eyes of Jesus. It seems to me that those two things are the same expression. My question is how when one is working with other people do we try to manifest that in a way that is real and not an idea? How do we practice that? Because I imagine that when Mother Teresa started that practice she also had a lot of ideas and became intoxicated by that practice but at some point she really could see the eyes of Jesus in every person.
January 30, 2012, 3:29 pm
This question is of course not two different things. First of all, I agree that what I said to Sozen, about how he shouldn´t trace the direction of the sickness, and the seeing with the eyes of Christ are one and the same thing. The question about how do we do that has got to be that great Japanese saying: case by case. It's always different with different individuals.
For example, to me, Sozen is a person of the path, so I see him as a person of the path. From the time when he came to Sogen-ji, Sozen has had a very deep meaning to his entrance into practice and because of that I have felt out how to teach him.
People may not know that Sozen is a disciple of mine, who is now in Belgium. He was with me for about 7 years. From the time of Sozen’s coming to Sogen-ji, I have felt that he was a person of great promise for the path. I have been teaching him in that way, but I wish that I had known earlier about the symptoms that Sozen had about his ideas of his body, that later became known to be cancer. I would have worked with him in his training in a different way had I known of his symptoms before they were diagnosed as cancer, which was fairly long after the symptoms had begun. This is all an example of how it is a case by case thing. This is how I have been working with Sozen about this.
Sozen is a person who is very dedicated to his inner journey and has taken it very seriously. I feel that he is a person who would be a great guide for other people so I teach him in that way, especially now. Whether Sozen really can believe this or not, or see it in the same way that I do or not, is not clear. Whether he can see that this opportunity of sickness is an opportunity and a fortunate thing or unfortunate thing, or if it’s a good thing that has happened to him to help him teach people or not a good thing, that is perhaps not clear to Sozen. But I feel that this is a place that is definitely to be used to bring him into a stronger ability to be able to lead people and for him to learn from this experience so that he can lead people with these challenges in a better way. Whether or not that is clearly understood yet by Sozen, I am not so sure.
Because I believe in him in this way, I see his situation as moving as he always has since he first came to Sogen-ji, I send him tapes – all the Vimilarkirti tapes – whenever I am thinking about something pertaining to that. I send him tapes and letters and receive back from Sozen the response of thanks for those tapes. But for Sozen, in this situation to see this idea of himself as a healthy person when he has symptoms of what would be called sickness is not always an easy thing to do. But I see him always as a person of completion. I see him as already a completed healthy person, no matter what symptoms of sickness he might have.
I think that that was also the way that Mother Teresa always saw people, from the eyes of love. She saw them all as the eyes of Christ and as that person who is complete no matter what else was going on in their physical body.
I also feel that this was the case for Tonini, who came for the East/West exchange to Sogen-ji, and was one of the main Vatican person and the head Abbot of a Catholic contemplative monastery. During the spiritual East/West exchange meeting many years ago, Tonini was asked by people there, “Why would you leave all the love of a family, love of a partner, love of the world, to become a monastic? Why would you put all of that behind you to become a monk?” Tonini said, “This doesn’t have so much to do with me. I was called by the love of God. It wasn’t something I chose to go toward. It came to me. In this way I said yes to that. So, this is a love that I believe in and that is why for going towards this love that I have left the other kinds of love behind.” This is the same message and answer that I have for you about Mother Teresa looking through the eyes of Christ.