This Sunday at our benefit day, “Living with a Joyful Spirit and a Wise Heart,” Jack and I, and some of our oldest friends on the path, will share the teachings that mean the most to us after a whole lifetime. We will ask a group of master teachers questions about what they have learned to trust, about the deep Dharma experiences that have changed their lives, and what understandings they most they want their students to know.
We will have this dialogue not only to hear the wisdom of these celebrated teachers, but because we want everyone listening to answer the same questions for themselves! Dharma practice invites us to discover what is true for ourselves, to trust the process of inner discovery and to see its connection to the world around us.
From my years of practice, I have learned to trust that my own experience, whether good or bad, when honestly encountered is a doorway into the mystery of being alive. Meditation has brought the confidence to be with all the funky, gnarly experiences of my life, and still take my place at the table of self-compassion and self-respect. When the so-called “barriers and hindrances” to spiritual practice are held in loving awareness, they become invitations to vulnerability and vastness. What’s most authentic and deeply honored in me inevitably leads into an experience of something larger than myself, something that’s true for others as well.
Martin Luther was arrested because of his heretical theses against the Church. At his trial, the Judge said “Martin, I’m going to read to you what you have written. Before I do that, you need to understand that I’m going to ask ‘do you believe this,’ and if you say yes, the punishment is death. Do you understand this?”
Martin Luther responded – “yes.”
Then the Judge read aloud what Martin Luther had written and posted on the door of the church, and asked, “Martin Luther, do you believe this?”
“I know no other.”
On pain of death, he had to say, this is my true understanding.
The Judge gave him 24 hours before execution. Fortunately several nobleman hid and protected him and he went on to live a long life. Martin Luther had the courage to say that on pain of death – no apology – ‘this is the extent of my understanding and I need to trust that.’
That kind of crazy trust is what ennobles and heals us. Each one of us, in our own way, must say, like Martin Luther: “This happened to me. I know no other.”