i’ve got that one thing: transforming the ten directions

i’ve got that one thing: transforming the ten directions


One of the “Buddhas of the Ten Directions” at the Cloud Platform at Juyongguan, China. Image: BabelStone via Wikimedia Commons.

I sometimes feel I have to be able to see a future to think it possible. And sometimes this is a good idea, works.

Yet more often, I have been granted a future I could not have imagined.  All I could see/know was “I want to go there, do that.” And the desire itself would pull me into my next level of growth or Spirit-blessedness. And it only shows me a step or so at a time or I get nauseous with overwhelm.

Is it enough that my anti-racism work for example is pulling me? Yes. I will follow where it leads. I will know signposts along the way but often ahead will be in darkness.

All I know is to reorganize my life around that one thing. It may look like many things–so I take a step back and ensure I am still following that one thing that is unifying all the many. Or jettison the things that are, if they are, pulling me away from that one thing.

This is very far from the ideals of romantic love in the very sweet, tweenybopper song by One Direction, “You’ve Got That One Thing.”

This is me realizing I’ve got that one thing.

Or it has me.

So what is it, my one thing? For me, it is the inward experience of oneness with the cosmos, Love, in my life and the lives of others.

 I’ve been “runned over” by that truck. (But for you, dear reader, what is it? Do you have that one thing too?)

Kaz Tanahashi said in a recent issue of the Upaya Zen Center newsletter that “my most favorite line of Dogen [Zenji, founder of the Soto sect of Zen Buddhism] is…in his fundraising letter, and [Dogen] says,

If we could build a temple, we will thoroughly engage in every activity in order to cultivate fertile conditions to transform the ten directions.

“So, he was not saying that we are going to change the world, but he was saying that we are going to build a monastery, train people to live mindfully and to live fully in the service of people, so that way we can help change the world. But he says, to do that, the most important thing is to be fully engaged in every small activity. You take care of the small thing fully and that is how you transform the world.”


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