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Dr. Ruben Habito:
Love on a Spiritual Path (part 1)
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Dr. Ruben Habito:
Love on a Spiritual Path (part 2, Q&A)
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Dr. Ruben Habito:
"Love on a Spiritual Path"
Part 1
Transcript of a talk delivered by Dr. Ruben Habito.
Breath of Life (Interfaith Mindfulness Fellowship)
July 15, 2007 - Dallas, Texas

I have been invited a couple of times in the last half year or so by Brother ChiSing and I am very glad that I have been able to at last join you and I hope that I can continue to join you from time to time. And it's a great joy to meet so many new friends who are also on a spiritual path, and I would like to learn more about the different groups that you introduced, [Center for] Spiritual Living, Breath of Life, the people here at Unity Church of course, and I'm so glad to be with many of my good friends who sit with me together at the Maria Kannon Zen Center. And those individuals who have come here just on a hunch that there might be something that they would find valuable here. And what I've experienced since the moment I entered up to this point, really everything that I've heard, seen, touched, tasted, has been pointing in the same direction. And so what I have to offer in these fifteen or twenty minutes could be really redundant, because it's already been said right from the start, from the initial poem that was read to us, I forget the name of the, the poet, what's the poet's name of the…

[Dorayne:] "In Us All."

No, the, the poet's name.

[Dorayne:] "Dan Coppersmith."

Dan Coppersmith. Yes. "In Us All." That's talked of precisely the fact that in all of us, there is only love at the root of all of us. And then the three goddesses with their beautiful rhythmic dance that hovered around us, pointed to the same thing in a different term. We are spirit, the spirit breathes in all of us, and enables us to see that we are one. And then of course the music and the lyrics of Michael hit right there at the heart, "Be still and know there is only love."

About Dr. Ruben Habito…

Dr. Ruben Habito Dr. Ruben Habito is a Professor of World Religions and Spirituality at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He is also Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Habito completed his doctoral studies at Tokyo University in 1978, and taught at Sophia University in Tokyo. He is the author of numerous books on Buddhism, was President of the Society for Buddhist Christian Studies from 2003 to 2005, and serves as spiritual director and Teacher (Roshi) at Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas, Texas.

That is basically what I would like to just offer back, what you've already heard and what you already know.

In my own Christian tradition, what I am most familiar with is the expression that Jesus himself heard when he went to the Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist, and he heard a voice from heaven that said, "You are my beloved."

Now, many Christians might think, "Oh, that was Jesus, he was special." But my understanding is that event is that what Jesus heard is the same voice that is being addressed to each and every one of us in our own special and unique and unrepeatable way, "You are beloved. You are my beloved, coming from the heart of the universe."

And to hear that can be the greatest joy of our lives. To hear that really, and not just through auditory senses but with our whole being, to be soaked by that message, "You are beloved," is the truth that we have been longing for all our lives, and to hear that can liberate us, and can enable us to live totally differently from the way we live now, centered on my things, my life, my way, that blocks the fact that we are that boundless sky that Brother ChiSing has been talking about. And so that message can be heard most clearly in the stillness that we share.

So really, my words are simply another set of pointers to what you already are invited to hear from the depths of your being, in that stillness. So if anything, what I can really offer is an encouragement to continue giving ourselves this stillness in our daily lives, so that we might be able to hear that voice in a definitive way that we know that it is true, and not just because we read about it, or heard it, or had a nice feeling about it when we went to join a sitting. But it really hits us in a way that it makes a difference in our lives, to really know in the midst of that stillness that you are beloved.

"I am the Beloved." It's so freeing and it's such a great source of joy that we can really dance and jump around and really celebrate one another, truly, and that's what I understand the dance of life to be, because it comes out of that, it pulls us out of that realization that we are beloved together, none of us excluded from that, all beings, all sentient beings, all beings, trees, mountains in their own way, and living beings, and especially humans, with all of the convoluted and very difficult things that have come upon us in our lives, these human beings ARE beloved, each and every one of us in our own unique way.

Now here's the bad news, though. Each of us comes into this life and have reached this point of our particular historical journey encumbered with a lot of karmic baggage that comes from our parents and our parents' parents and all down through the ages and all through the convoluted human relationships that are marked by tension and violence and conflict. And then we were born into this life, of course out of love but perhaps that love was not fully expressed. And perhaps that love was not fully understood when it was being given, and because of that, we come through life being pummeled by a lot of wounds of our karmic path. And we add to those wounds by our own little selfishness, and we think I need this and I want this, and in doing so we bump into one another and we hurt others also, and we hurt ourselves. So each of us carries our own particular set of karmic baggage that, first of all we need to acknowledge.

So what can happen is, at some point in our lives we realize that, and some voice in us tells us, "no that's not all there is." That song of Peggy Lee reminds us, "Is that all there is?" No, not at all. There's more and more and more. There's a boundless space... spacious realm full of treasure that you, that's awaiting for you to discover, that love with a capital L. But to be able to get to that, we have to get through a lot of debris that has piled up to our karmic path. And what can happen is, for some who at some point in their lives, begin to face that silence, can run into some of those unhealed wounds of the past, or there may be things that we tried to repress because they were too hurtful, or they were too heavy for us, and so we put them under the rug of our repressed consciousness, and we try to go on trying to live life in a normal way, just as the others, and yet there are these unhealed wounds in us.

So what can happen is, when we give ourselves this opportunity of being still, and attracted by that which is deeper than all of our karmic wounds, we may run into those little pockets of woundedness, and they may erupt in a way that may throw us off, and can render us dazed and perhaps thrown off and not knowing what to do.

And so perhaps, rather... just to give one concrete experience, this is an example of a physical wound that a person had encountered. I was in a Zen retreat some time, some years ago and on the third day of a five day retreat, one of the participants suddenly began to feel intense pain in her chest area. And nobody could do anything about it so we had to just ask her… just after dinner, it was our relaxing time... so it was so intense that she could only lie down, and several of her friends sat with her, and I went to where she was, and held her hand and breathed with her, and one of her friends told me that a couple of years before, she had had major surgery, and she was a young mother also with small children. And since the small children were now coming to visit, she did not want to show them that she was in pain, so she tried to keep a very joyful and smiling face in spite of the fact that she was in great pain. And so that pain was repressed in her system for two years or so. And so during that Zen retreat, what happened was that pain that she had buried under the rug of her subconscious came out and expressed itself, and so she was writhing in pain for about twenty or thirty minutes. But when she realized that, "Oh, that's that pain," she was able to breathe with it, and soon after, was able to let it go.

Now that was a physical pain. We may have so many other kinds of pain in our own psyche that we have left unhealed or have buried or have not been able to truly heal, and they may come up in these times of silence.

So what do we do? Unfortunately I have no all-around answer that would answer all of those. Each individual has to really take a look at your own karmic baggage and see what needs to be done. And so it's not a journey that can get you right there to the core in a couple of sittings, or a couple of weeks of attending a group, or even a few months or even a few years. It's a lifetime of continuing that practice of stillness so that we can get through that debris that has piled up and be able to really touch the core of our being.

So by all means, if you feel the invitation to come home to that love with a capital L, give yourself this gift of stillness on a regular basis. Join a group like this or set up a group on your own if you cannot make the time that the bigger group meets, and so forth. And make it regular, as a habit of your daily life. And as you do so, then when you run into the debris and when you run into those pockets of hurt and woundedness, that's when you may need some help from someone who has gone the course before. And so perhaps again, joining a group with someone who can guide people as you sit together might be crucial for some.

For others, they may be gifted with that facility to just be still in silence, and already arrive at that without too much help from others. So then this is an invitation simply to find community, to find one another, and help one another in that path so we can clear one another's debris and help one another see through them so that we can have support. And as we do so we can, in our own different ways, come to that same point that we talk about in so many different expressions.

And what can happen is, once we have touched that, even though there's still a lot of work to be done, it's a lifetime of continuing effort to clear through that debris, but still we reach these moments of clarity every now and then. And so once we know that that's really the way we can live our lives, in a way that's truly at peace, joyful and in a way that is able to give ourselves as a gift back to everyone else, and not someone who will just add on to the wounds of others because I am considering my own ways of doing things, once we have seen through that, and have arrived at that place where really there's only Love with a capital L, then that love can ooze out of our lives a little bit better in the way we relate to one another, in the way we see one another, in the way we are able to embrace one another.

Additional links…

The Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas

Center for Spiritual Living, Dallas

Unity Church of Dallas

Dan Copperfield - SpiritWire

The Four Bramaviharas

Peggy Lee

And so, by all means, let us look for those ways in which we can help one another get to that point, where we really see the meaning of all of these things we say together. We are one. And how do you practice that when there is a situation of conflict? When you don't see eye to eye with somebody and you have to work out an arrangement of what to do in a group situation and so on? Do you just write off somebody because they think differently and so forth? So it's within those conflicting situations we're at wherein what happens in our sitting can make a difference. So let us continue to take that invitation to trust that there's something deep in us that's calling us to come home to, so that we will know that we are truly one, with one another, in our differences, and we can embrace one another and live with the tensions and conflicts in a way that does not add to them but in a way that can help a little bit in healing them.

And that's what gives us joy, the four Brahmaviharas. That's what gives us that sense of being able to wish for the happiness of all, Metta. The second one, that also gives us the capacity to feel the suffering of one another, Karuna. And that's what gives us the sense of being able to celebrate the joy of one another, Mudita. And that's also what enables us to live in tranquility and peace in a way that we are embraced by the universe and by one another and we can give back that embrace to one another in each of the encounters that we are given in this life [Upeksha].

I am grateful again for this opportunity of being with you tonight, and I hope we run into each other at some point. And if you see me in Whole Foods or somewhere, just introduce yourself, because I am not able to meet all of you individually today. But, if we have some opportunity to run into one another somewhere, please, I would love to know you and meet with you and then go on and perhaps our journeys can intersect in other ways.

Thank you for this opportunity to be with you.

   [ Go to part 2 of this talk ]

Transcribed by Jennifer Jonsson

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