A week ago Sunday we had the Precepts and Ordination ceremony at Still Point. I hadn't been to the temple in a while so I came unprepared. Before the ceremony, the individuals preparing to take the precepts do prostrations in the meditation hall with the dharma students, teachers, and anyone else who wants to bow with them as a show of support. Well, it was really cold that morning when we left home so I ran in and changed into a sweater. By the time the service was over, it had warmed up quite a bit.
I didn't think I was going to do the bows. The sweater I was wearing could have been a decent excuse. Then I had a conversation with one of the brothas who decided to take the vows. When he asked if I was going to say for the prostrations, I couldn't refuse. I was hot and uncomfortable, but I did as many of them as I could. The goal for this session is to do at least 3 times 108, and I'd be willing to bet that we exceeded that goal. I alternated between full prostrations, half prostrations and bows. Its interesting... no matter how resistant I am to doing prostrations, as soon as I get over the initial hump... say the first 25 or so... I'm okay. Even if I know I will be sore later, the mental blocks fall away and I'm just doing them.
I didn't get to stay for the ceremony. Just doing those bows reminded me of my own preparation for the ceremony. 3000 prostrations. Mindful contemplation of the precepts. Strong determination to complete the prerequisites. Curiosity about what my Buddhist name would be. I was given a little booklet when I took the precepts. On the front page of the booklet there is a statement called The Way of a Buddhist. Somewhere in the middle, it says:
Cultivation of your body, mind and speech will, without fail, lead you to the realization of the Three Jewels, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, that is, peace, love and happiness.
Interesting word, cultivation. It's a gentle, patient, nurturing noun from the verb cultivate. The dictionary provides these definitions (among others)...
- To improve and prepare
- To promote the growth of
- To nurture; foster
- To seek the acquaintance or goodwill of; make friends with
- To train to be discriminative in taste or judgment
I'm pretty consistent with speech but I haven't been nurturing, training, or making friends with my body or mind lately. I've felt pretty stuck. It's nice that even when you're not the one taking on the precepts, just being in the space of that energy and supporting the other Sangha members can provide a great sense of renewal. During these moments, I really appreciate the importance of the Sangha... the ways we can hold each other up even when we don't say much to each other. I certainly felt bolstered.