Neck Deep in Grace

...A friend James Baraz tells of traveling to India to be with the guru H. W. L. Poonja…

Poonja was celebrated for his freedom of spirit, for the energy of awakening he transmitted to his disciples, and for his joyful laughter. James had completed twenty years of meditation practice and become a greatly beloved Buddhist teacher. Still wanting to grow, and yearning to touch more deeply the very heart of spiritual life, he went to India. After some days of dialogue with the master, James explained that his Buddhist training had offered wakefulness, compassion, and wisdom, but that nothing much had been taught about grace. He was perplexed. “How could he know whether he was receiving the grace of the guru, how should he look for it”, he asked. All the gathered disciples listened closely.

The master peered back at James and laughed, amused by the question. “You teach in a community committed to spiritual life, you have a healthy family in beautiful California, you are in India surrounded by devoted brothers and sisters on the path. Now you are sitting, speaking with the master, and you ask where is the grace?” He laughed again. “You are neck-deep in grace!”

We are all neck-deep in grace. Whoever we are, we are held by the warmth of the sun and the shining embrace of the snow, nourished by the sweet waters of the rain, alive in the great mystery. Whatever our circumstances, we have the perfect capacity to awaken. With an open heart and open mind we discover a great stillness, a loving presence with things as they are. Resting in a simple awareness of the present, the heart becomes trustworthy.  As we accept the stream of life, enlightenment and grace arise naturally, This is not attainment, but living wisdom.

As Suzuki Roshi says, “When we realize the everlasting truth of ‘everything changes,’ and find our composure in it, we find our-selves in Nirvana.” Each moment of this awakening brings a sense of caring and natural responsiveness to tragedy and beauty alike.

When strength is called for, it is there; when flexibility and surrender are called for, they are there as well. We are at ease with this amazing life.
Excerpt from After the Ecstasy the Laundry by Jack Kornfield

Inside the Great Mystery that is,
we don’t really own anything.
What is this competition we feel then,
before we go, one at a time, through the same gate?

—- RUMI (tr. Moyne and Barks)


Posted by | Paul Reynolds
Paul has been a yoga teacher on the Island of Kauai for many years and is the facilitator of the weekly Living the Question Blog - a repository of wisdom and inspiration. Paul also produces and hosts Le Guru is You Radio Show, showcasing everyday gurus.

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