As we move into the new year I want to let you all know where I am now in my journey. I am writing this on the Chinese New Year, the year of the Dragon. I trust it will be a better year for us all and a year of great transformation for the world.
I want to acknowledge that this past year has been very challenging as well as sobering. It has shown me that I am not superhuman but just an ordinary guy who has made some very hurtful decisions. As I took on the practice of embracing all the extremes, embodying the 81st Patriarch and empowering people, I allowed myself to become very inflated. I have spent this past year in deep self-reflection and working with my mentors, letting go of some deeply rooted patterns that have been there for a very long time.
After a year that could perhaps be described as a “dark night of the soul,” I have made some life-changing decisions that may or may not affect some of you. I will be simplifying and scaling down both my life and work and not being such a public and visible person. I will be continuing in a more modest, vulnerable and approachable way with much less drive and ambition. I wish to be with people who share mutual respect and supportive relationships, and to take better care of myself, family members, loved ones, friends, and students.
This past year I came to the edge of the cliff and was forced to leap, letting go of everything. This released a great deal of weight and pressure on my shoulders and in my heart. It wasn’t until I let go of the Zen Center property, the Japanese form, the residential program and the Buddha Dharma itself, that I understood how heavy the anchor had become around my neck, like “an iron yoke with no hole.” Now that I am less burdened I would like to share the Dharma with others as just “me” without attachment to any particular form, technique or teaching. My teaching will be more about what is needed in the moment for healthier growth and development and without the promise of a “carrot” at the end. I feel that I have left some very capable people behind to teach and that I can move on into the unknown that lies ahead.
As I move forward in my life I am not throwing away or rejecting anything that I embody, being a lineage holder, a Zen Master, or a monk, but I am not identified with, nor attached to any of these, nor to any particular path or method of teaching, only doing what works to awaken sentient beings. I will continue to work with a very few students who have chosen to work with me in a heartfelt way, who recognize and know what and who I am. I have been driven to the edge and forced to leap only to find true freedom by letting go of all beliefs and systems, including a Buddha view and a Dharma view. The people I will be working with are those willing to take the same leap of faith.
12/12/12 would have been my father’s 103rd birthday and it will mark the beginning of the next evolution of Big Mind. I don’t know now exactly what this will look like, only that I am in a process of wishing to gift Big Mind/Big Heart to the world as a skillful means that has great potential to change and transform people’s lives.
I am both inspired and excited about the future. I feel that I am once again a beginner. My heart and soul are calling me home and back to the source. I feel that I am returning to the world after this forty-year spiritual journey, that my life and adventure are now beyond both the “market place” and the “spiritual,” the “holy” and the “profane.” What I am still committed to is continuing to clarify and grow, being conscious and awake, with compassion towards others and myself.
I take full responsibility for my life and what I have created and am completely accountable for my actions and reactions. I have no hard feelings towards anyone, even my critics. I only hope that I haven’t created too much harm and suffering in order to learn the lessons that I needed to learn so far in this life. This life is truly a wonderful gift to be lived and not wasted. I sincerely wish you all the very best on your journey.
Love, D. Genpo Merzel