Notes to myself #3
February 7, 2012
“Praxis” does not simply mean practice. It means activities, actions undertaken that are fulfilled in and of themselves—whole, organic, self-fulfilling—as opposed to actions undertaken in order to accomplish a goal that lies beyond the action itself.
Shinran calls nembutsu “Great Practice,” precisely because it is fulfilled in its very utterance--praxis. Suzuki translates Shinran’s “practice” as “living.”
Poems share this quality, and I believe I’ve come closer to understanding my life in nembutsu through a greater intimacy with poets and poems.
Read “poem,” think “nembutsu”:
The point of the poem is the poem itself, catching our attention in that way that turns our head, holds us, disarms, even for a moment, all other concerns. Our being arrested in the mystery of hearing more than the words spoken.
Language as tool eclipsed by words as experienced event. An opened opportunity for learning something new.
Poems can be found in the most ordinary exchanges between us, if we’re listening.
It’s not about another “use” of our words, but a different awareness of our natural engagement with words, a different awareness of our living as humans that opens opportunities for sustenance and growth.
Nembutsu and the poem are lived events, experiences that are true, real and whole in and
of themselves, not transactions for some other purpose.
Moments of awareness that evoke not anticipation for what is to come, but appreciation and gratitude for what is happening, what has occurred. A gifted taste that most often moves us to want to share.
And in this, I pause, as did the poet Kenneth Rexroth, “in my sixth decade,” and wonder at who I am and what I’ve learned, or not, who I’ve become in this tangled, unruly insistence toward nembutsu and poems, practitioners and poets—in the truth of their lives as heard in their words, through their dedication to this, I find my own. Home then, “sangha,” community. Intimate fellows of no little significance. Namuamidabutsu