Staying in Emptiness

Frans StieneArticles, English 2 Comments

japnov 1

In November 2019 I was part of an international group of Reiki practitioners and teachers exploring Japan and Mikao Usui’s teachings. During this journey we were fortunate to experience different traditional Japanese ceremonies, from tea ceremony to the esoteric ritual of goma, from Mikkyo chanting rituals to kaji – blessings, and from Shinto blessing to Shinto chanting.

One important thing which stood out for me is that these traditional practitioners/teachers practiced in such a different way than many modern practitioners/teachers do. We can learn a lot from observing these rituals.

The first point is that they practiced these rituals with such focus, not being distracted by past, present, and future. There was no gap between their practice and their state of mind. Due to there being no gap, their rituals cut straight to the core, the core of their being. And as we all are interconnected, with no real gap between these traditional practitioners/teachers and you, their practice therefore creates a possibility of also cutting straight to your being. Thus every ritual they performed had the potential of being an empowerment, a blessing. Why the potential and not the result? Because the person watching the ritual also needs to be as much as possible in a state of mind of not being distracted by past, present, and future. As the Zen saying goes; you can’t pour anything into a full cup.

There is such a difference when we see many modern rituals being performed; often there is a big gap between the ritual and the mind – they are not one. This is due to the fact that our minds are distracted by past, present, and future. Like the full cup, our minds are too busy and distracted to be fully open.

The second point was that after their ritual was performed, they all stayed in emptiness. What does that mean, staying in emptiness? Zen master Dainin Katagiri describes staying in emptiness this way: that there is no “stickiness” or “stink” left after what you have practiced. What this stickiness or stink is, is all about the ego: look what I just did! I just performed this great ritual, I can do this and you don’t, I saw this or that, I am special, let me tell you what I saw or felt, etc… you know what this kind of stickiness is. It is our ego boost, trying to show off, trying to be special.

But these teachers just performed these rituals and boom…finished. No stickiness or stink left. By staying in emptiness, which they had deepened during the ritual, they had no stickiness or stink left and thus after the performed ritual they will stay free. This freedom is spiritual freedom which will help them to go even deeper into their practice. But when we have a stickiness left we can’t move to the deeper layers, as we are stuck in our ego boosting.

This trip was therefore one great big lesson for me: to practice more, so that there will be no gap between my mind and body when I live my life. To practice more so that there will be no stickiness or stink left after whatever I do, no matter if it is a hands-on healing session, teaching a retreat, performing a ritual or just living my day to day life.

To see the gap dissolve into emptiness and to stay in emptiness.

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