March 5, 2019 at 12:24 pm #3319
Andrew Cheffings (temple host)Participant
My practice this week has been chanting the Nembutsu, deep hearing and writing a dharma talk for this week’s Leicester Home Group. Here it is:
Dharma Talk for 7.3.19 Home Group
At the Dentists
This morning I went to the dentists for my 6 month check-up.
Three dentists ago, my dentist put in a filling which changed the shape of a tooth so that food debris collected there even if I flossed religiously. I lost two teeth as a result. I said nothing but I was pleased when that dentist left and I was given a new dentist.
The new dentist injured my lip while it was anaesthetised. I didn’t realise until I saw it reflected in a nearby shop window. I said nothing but I left that dentist of my own accord.
My next new dentist scratched the inside of my mouth with a piece of equipment while my mouth was anaesthetised. The scratch developed into a line of ulcers and I felt ill for several days. I did tell my dentist this time because my mind had been changed about the importance of giving feed-back.
That dentist is now on maternity leave so I have a temporary new dentist. He diagnosed the usual litany of troubles with my back teeth, caused either by silent reflux or grinding of my teeth in my sleep. Both these causes are themselves caused by anxiety which is in turn caused by unprocessed traumas (these traumas are not dental-related!).
When I arrived at the dentists he was delayed, so I had a long wait in the waiting room. I was pleased the practice had placed a Buddha statue next to my chair. Here is the hymn I wrote as I waited –
I am glad There is a Buddha In the waiting room.
I also wrote a series of hymns inspired by these four words which came to me the other day as I was chanting –
Repentance, supplication, worship, prayer.
(It was a long wait.)
Leaving the dentist with a new appointment for next week for extensive work on my damaged back teeth, I spotted three words, painted on a board outside an ancient chapel:
Seek, Pray, Listen.
My mind linked ‘repentance’ with ‘pray’ for to me repentance is the most important attitude of prayer.
When I repent, I don’t only recognise my own short-comings, I also recognise the communal short-comings I have been party to, for example:
I colluded, through my silence, with two dentists who accidentally caused me injury, saying nothing about their bodged handiwork (although I had learned enough by dentist number two to have the confidence to leave him for a new dentist). Only when events in my life caused me to pray with the attitude of repentance did I realise the importance of not colluding with communal short-comings so that I gave feedback to my third dentist, who was maybe rushing and under pressure of targets when she caught my mouth with her tools. This feedback was an opportunity for the dentist to modify her patient care, an opportunity I didn’t give either of the two previous dentists. Of course, I have no idea what use she made of the feedback but without feedback there would have been no use to be had.
What of the unprocessed traumas at the root of this trail of collusion, repentance and learning?
Fortunately, the Buddha has gifted us Buddha Mind, the diamond-like mind, our true selves.
This mind is saturated with the Buddha’s unstoppable light of wisdom.
In gaps in my habitual thought-babble, the Buddha causes me, and everyone, to hear little pieces of reality. He causes me to hear through whatever activities are appropriate to my needs and nature, right now, in this imperfect temporal state.
And when I hear, I respond, and this response is a form of worship, which is another attitude of prayer.
This Buddha Mind causes me to seek, and I come together with others in the congregation and hopefully we can share together some of our myriad responses to the Buddha’s Limitless Light.
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