How does faith, joy and gratitude manifest in
The more I practice the reciting of the Name,
the more I notice an inner calmness, especially during stressful situations. This awareness makes my faith grow stronger and
I become conscious of joy within me in the midst of whatever is happening, which makes me very grateful.
I think faith, joy and gratitude manifest in my
life by showing me that there is no distinction between my spiritual life and my life otherwise, that the joy of Amida is
ever present even during the most unspiritual movements and the gratitude I feel for the Vow is best felt during the times
when my faith seems to have abandoned my ego-self.
As I further explore Shin, as my faith deepens,
I find myself accepting myself and my foolishness a bit easier. Understanding the depth of compassion that Amida has for me
just as I am; gratitude is becoming more of a natural response. While I don’t need to exert effort to earn Amida’s
compassion my actions have shifted as a result.
As beer. The existence of beer in my spiritual
life is a small yet constantly tangible proof that Amida is indeed full of compassion; and even though happiness is impossible
for sustained periods of time in the historical dimension due to the myriad problems experienced throughout the day, the trivial
problems resulting from deep universal questions such as “where the f@#% is the sauce for my cheddar peppers?”
are put into proper perspective. I slowly and reverently pour my beer, ever careful to make sure that the proper angle is
made against the side of the glass to avoid an overabundance of head. After the pour, I raised the glass and pause before
taking a slow, deep breath, ever mindful of the distinct aroma and color. Then I sip the beer. Now it dawns on me that I can
make my own damn special sauce. I use mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. It is important be sparing with
all of the ingredients in relation to the base ingredient, which is mayonnaise. I then remember this lesson for the next time
when perhaps I don’t have beer; in that case I will hopefully have tequila. The joy resulting from learning a lesson
that makes it possible to avoid anger, greed and ignorance builds my faith. Gratitude manifests naturally, and the Nembutsu
arises in my mind. Some people say you can see the whole universe in a single grain of sand. I say you can see the whole universe
in a single case of beer.
A couple of evenings ago as Joseph and I chanted
passionately for the Earth, our gazes lost in one another, an angry woman appeared in the doorway. Can’t you guys keep
it down?” she pulled the heavy pocket doors roughly closed. “I’ve got a client upstairs!” we abruptly
dropped our volume and she strode away. In Joseph’s eyes, I saw the fear that I felt. “How were we supposed to
know she had a client? It’s 6 o’clock in the evening. “It’s a freakin’ chant for the Earth!”
we did not cease the flow of Sanskrit mantra. “I’m lost in outrage!” I worried, “what if my passions
disrupt the integrity of our 60 minute flow?” I could not… O would not stop. And the space within and around me
enveloped the fear and the anger – mine and the woman’s upstairs. The space became the joy of being –without
regard to skillful or unskillful, right or wrong, success or failure. I felt deeply grateful to be touched by infinity amidst
such a torrent of passions. I trust completely in the wisdom of the universe.