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Guru Purnima – Celebrating Compassion


On certain days of the year, the position of the Earth, Sun and Moon, not only greatly affect all living beings, but it also creates the most favourable conditions for spiritual practice. But although the effect is significant, the constellation of the planets alone does not make anyone healthier and does not bring awakening. Rather, it enhances the receptivity of the human system and triggers the culmination of the ongoing biological and spiritual process.

In the time after the summer solstice, with the little help of nature, the maturity of spiritual seekers can reach higher levels, but the same natural conditions affect already awakened humans too.

The fist and the second full moon days after summer solstice are particularly influential. The second, known as a Guru Purnima, traditionally recalls the day when Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, India.

The favourable planetary constellation softens these who stopped differentiating, for whom no dualism exists and whose ego has dissolved; it sets inner conditions in which compassion prevails. This triggers an awakened person who stopped being involved in ordinary affairs, to get involved again in order to help others. Their enlightened compassion is the only reason they became teachers, though they may never have had such intentions before.

The reintegration of the awakened person into ordinary life is well described by the Zen proverb: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” Even though the before and after acts seam to be the same, they differs strongly from each other. Before enlightenment, every act, even the one, which is classified as an act of compassion, is driven by the Ego and in order to satisfy one's own needs. After enlightenment, every act, including those that can be considered selfish, is driven by enlightened compassion and to support needs of others.

The Guru Purnima is a day when these enlightened teachers are celebrated, only this celebration is not about the guru as a person, but about great compassion that leads her to transmit not transmittable, to speak unspeakable, to share what cannot be shared.

The term guru originally means “the one who dispels darkness”, but that does not necessary mean turning on the light in a dark room – for one who sees, this is not very difficult; rather, persuading people to open their eyes and see that the room is already filled with light makes “dispelling of the darkness” challenging. No matter how many words or how beautifully Guru expresses the nature of light, all that remains only a nice story, something to believe, disbelieve or dream about, unless one actually experience it alone.

The awakened teacher is aware of how little success she can have, how difficult it is to say in simple terms something beyond the verbal expression, how often this simplicity may sound silly and stupid. To know all this, but still keeping the decision to leave silence and teach others, can only be sustained with the deepest compassion.

The Guru Purnima Day offers the opportunity to become receptive to the grace that comes from this compassion.

Receiving and becoming part of grace is not that difficult. Everyone has at least once experienced the flow or timeless moment in which everything disappeared and only action remained – it could be painting, dancing, driving, or even office work. This is the door to grace. One gets absorbed, merges with activity. Whispers and judgments of the Ego disappear; conditioning loses its power, one just live, fully imbedded in the moment after the moment, with no thoughts about impermanence, no sense of time, no judgments about activity or image; the only thing that remains is the breath that connects to own nature. Each of these experiences can be taken as a reminder that everything is possible and that all doors can be wide opened when you knock.

Out of fear, people often prefer not to open the door in front of them, locking themselves up and putting self-induced limitations on self-development. This resistance to change causes great suffering due to inner conflicts: one longs to reach the sate of liberation, but at the same time, one's own fear is an obstacle blocking the way.

The best way to overcome these obstacles is to return to the present moment when action is taking place. By immersing yourself in the activity, you put your own ego into sleep mode, which ultimately leads to the dissolution of the artificially created Self. Without ego, the actions arising out of selfish needs will cease and the path to liberation will open.

Use Guru Purnima Day to appreciate compassionate actions. May this leads you to final liberation.

On July 27, Guru Purnima is at the same time the total lunar eclipse. This day will be celebrated with Zen nun Maya DoKa in Urban Nun Zendo.

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