O ka pono ke hana ‘ia a iho mai na lani
Continue to do good until the harvest come down to you
Blesseings come to those who persist in doing good
‘Olelo No’eau – Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings, #2437
Collected, translated and annotated by Mary Kawena Pukui
The last three weeks have been so full and good. It began with a wonderful gathering of hula people and Hawaiian musicians in a joint performance on September 21st – the Autumnal Equinox – on the Oak Park Pa Hula. It was the last time that we formally danced hula on the mound, as we’re selling our house. When the festivities ended, Connie Harris did a beautiful pule (prayer) and ceremony to formally close the mound. I loved that five local Hawaiian groups (singers and dancers) came to share that moment with us!That weekend was followed by a 7-day silent meditation retreat. Then came another week during which I secluded myself in preparation for my Dharma Transmission to become a fully empowered Zen Priest and Zen Teacher. I didn’t use my computer or iPhone during that last week which culminated in a wonderful Robe Ceremony this past Sunday.
During my seclusion, I got up at 4:15 am to meditate and then did Buddhist services in honor of our lineage of Buddhist teachers which trace back to Shakyamuni Buddha. I chanted sutras and the names of our male and female ancestors throughout the day, copied manuscripts and made 108 bows every evening.
I was a little concerned about being able to do the 108 prostrations. I did them slowly and rhythmically and noticed when I was worried about my performance. I observed when I procrastinated and how whatever story I made up about not doing them just added to my not wanting to do them. But, of course, I had to do them so I just leaped into bowing.
The first night that I completed them, I noticed I was breathing hard and was glad to have a chair to sit on. I also noticed how much more energy I had for sitting meditation and that my chest felt more open. Bowing is a good physical practice to accompany meditation.
On the second day I included a Hawaiian chant after the Buddhist services. As soon as I finished chanting, tears spontaneously arose in gratitude for my hula practice. I knew then that hula was my heart practice and realized it is so very much a part of who I am.
My week of seclusion and intensive practice culminated in a public Robe Ceremony on Sunday. At least 50 people attended. I was given a new robe by my teacher, my husband Robert Joshin Althouse. The robe signified my dharma transmission and a new title – Sensei (teacher). Then we danced hula that made me really happy. It was a beautiful and empowering day. So many people had supported me in different ways – cooking, cleaning, dancing, praying.
The next day, I slept in – the first day off in three weeks. When I awoke the first thing I did was look at FaceBook on my iPhone for an hour lying in bed.
Later on that foggy day, we went to the Art Institute of Chicago – the last day of the Magritte Exhibition. Magritte was a surrealist who believed in the power of his dreams and looked at the world in a very different way. I too am beginning to see things differently.
The great photographer, Peter Cunningham, was with us. Much to my delight, he said that foggy days are perfect days for photography! After lunch, we walked out to the Lurie Gardens – an oasis right in the midst of urban Chicago! Peter was right – the fall colors of the garden were magically enhanced by the foggy light and rain.
My iPhone battery was almost gone, but I had my small Cannon PowerShot to use. I thoroughly enjoyed taking photos – what nourishment the garden gave to me. I saw one angle that was particularly enchanting – I wanted to take a photo on my iPhone to post onto FaceBook, and share it with you. So I took out my iPhone, and then I dropped it.
It bounced off of the retaining wall and dove straight through a little crack – like a champion Olympic diver – not touching either side of the crack. It fell perfectly straight into the water flowing under the deck. I stood there stunned. There was nothing I could do. My iPhone was gone!
A very nice young man came towards me as this happened. He witnessed the whole thing and was almost as stunned as I was. He looked at me and said with empathy, “It’s gone.” I said, “Yes,” still in disbelief. He said, “I’m sorry.” I said, “Thanks” not knowing whether I should laugh or cry.
My world shifted a little again. When you lose something of value, there is a momentary change in awareness. Then I laughed out loud in disbelief at how my iPhone could have done such a perfect dive into the drink. Could this be a blessing in disguise? Maybe I need to start doing more face to face time with people. So, for now, I’m exploring living without my iPhone. We’ll see how long that lasts.
Malama pono (Take care of body, mind and heart),
June Ryushin Kaililani Tanoue