Seeds and Dreams

“This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:

Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;

Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.” (Buddha)

…unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit… (Jesus)

Dreams are like seeds:  they need to crack open for them to become what they are.  The crack is representative of the broken, incomplete, impermanent nature of all things. It represents the pain involved in physical, mental, and spiritual growth.  Failure – the crack- is as important to growth as is success.  Thanks to the crack in our lives, whether in the soil where the seed is planted, or in the heart where the spirit is planted, our potential can come forth and our dreams can become reality.

One day when I was training at Shogoji Zen monastery, it was my job to whip Japanese powdered green tea for the community.  There were many details involved in the preparation, including carrying a tray of expensive hand made tea bowls.  Because I was overly eager to do everything right, I tripped while carrying the tray, sending several of the bowls crashing to the wood floor.

I broke several bowls.  My initial feelings were a mix of shame and relief.  I felt shame for having broken expensive bowls that did not belong to me.  I knew I would need to apologize and ask for forgiveness.

I felt relief because it dawned on me that I can’t do everything that I want to do, I’m not my idea or someone else’s idea of perfection, and that I need to slow down.  I had been scurrying around trying to accomplish more than I was able.  I realized I need to take my time and go at a pace that is more realistic for me.

Our dreams are important.  We all have dreams or visions for what we  want life to be.  Sometimes we get discouraged when our vision doesn’t turn out like we thought it would.  We may have unrealistic expectations of ourselves or others, become dismayed in our imperfect ability to turn our dreams into reality, and realize that our dreams have a “crack” in it.  The crack is there, however, not to discourage us, but to remind us of the growth involved in personal change and transformation.

The crack in our dreams, like the story of the broken tea bowls, serves to remind us to proceed at a reasonable pace, not carry more than we can handle, and that our dreams are subject to change, growth, and destruction.  When we acknowledge the crack we can loosen our grip on trying to be something that we are not, and learn to accept ourselves even with our imperfections.

Published by Daishin

Daishin Eric McCabe is a Buddhist monk. He teaches Soto Zen philosophy, mindfulness meditation, yoga, and calligraphy to people of all walks of life and spiritual paths. He was ordained in 2004 and given permission to teach in 2009. He is fully ordained in the Soto Zen tradition and is a recognized teacher both in the Association of Soto Zen Buddhists and in the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. Daishin undertook a 15 year mentorship with Abbess Dai-En Bennage of Mount Equity Zendo, located in rural central Pennsylvania. During this time he trained at various Soto Zen Monasteries in Japan. In France he trained with Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, practiced in California at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, and with Rev. Nonin Chowaney at the Nebraska Zen Center. He is a certified hatha Yoga teacher through Integral Yoga. Daishin has four years experience attending the spiritual and emotional needs of patients, family, and staff in a hospital setting, and three years experience giving spiritual direction and counsel to clients with mental health and substance abuse issues. He has ten years experience as a Guest Teacher and speaker at Buddhist meditation retreats, yoga centers, colleges, and multi-faith gatherings. Daishin studied at Bucknell University where he received a BA in Religion and Biology in 1995. He completed 5 units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Wellspan York Hospital in August of 2014, where he worked as a Chaplain in Behavioral Health, and in 2015 was granted by the Board of Chaplaincy Certification Incorporated the equivalent of a Master of Divinity. Prior to chaplaincy he taught meditation and yoga for two years to clients at White Deer Run, a drug and alcohol rehab in central PA. He presently teaches yoga at Broadlawns Medical Center to patients receiving mental health care. Daishin presently resides in Ames, Iowa with his wife and family.

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