Before Birth

Image of zen practitioner“Shabbily dressed, he stumbled along the cobblestones of a back street in Ropponggi, a suburb of Tokyo. He leaned first on one wall of the small plaza, then haltingly traversed to the opposite, resting for a minute before continuing. My first thought was that he wanted something, maybe a spare coin, maybe some of my time.

Then I stopped, allowing myself to return to a sense of peace, searching for what was real. He slowly walked out to the main street balancing his way on the rail between street and sidewalk.

For the next week or so, I sat in a coffee shop, and daily saw him at the same time, haltingly moving down the sidewalk, resting against the railing gathering his breath, resolving to get to the next touchstone. He became one of my greatest teachers. Interesting this word teacher. For it has meaning beyond the words. In Hindi, guru means to move from the dark to the light. The roots of the word educate mean to bring forth. In Japanese, sensei means before birth. Recently I thanked deeply a long time guru and educator and sensei. The words returned “What did you learn?” All of you on these pages have been my sensei. And I am infinitely thankful. These words are for you: Good question. Answers not in any specific order. Have always been a wanderer, and you taught me to explore places unknown. First in emotions, for I was an emotional desert. Second in narrative. It is never in the story. Third in self awareness. As a way to understand others. Fourth in observing and sensing. Part in the interoception, reading my body. Part in reading others mental, physical, and emotional states. Part in seeing the themes and patterns that govern our lives. Fifth in asking questions and understanding intention. About curiosity. Two times dizzy: one looking up at the Southern Cross, two looking into another. Sixth in connection. Connection with all that is. Seventh in letting go of the shards of needing another to fulfill me. Eighth in forgiveness. Realizing that what I thought happened may not be true, and even if so, to harbor hate is a waste of energy. Ninth in the radical non-judgment of others. Allowing whoever they are to be themselves. With compassion. Tenth in the process of re-consolidation. Exploding my thoughts and emotions, and bringing them back together in a new way. Eleventh in mindfulness. Paying attention. With intention, to a place of no intention. Twelfth to learn from no matter who, no matter what. That’s twelve. Seems like a nice number, so I will stop there. A baker’s dozen. For there is one more, the crucible. You showed me the fire.” -Charles Hamrick 1/1/2014

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