What I Learned While Seeking Refuge in a Buddhist Monastery

On Valentine’s Day most people go out to dinner, do something romantic with someone they love. The restaurants fill and the tips roll in. Expectations include cards, flowers – especially roses, something sweet even if only in a single thought of love sent out into the ethers towards another. The one day set aside for love is always on the 14 of days.

I am here to tell you the kind of love promoted on the commercialized holy-day is not love at all. It is a cultural societal obligation. We all speak the words, do the protocol, and expect something in return. It is engrained deeply into your subconscious. You aren’t aware you are even doing it. Love as defined by our current state of BEING from a larger collective perspective, has grown a neurological network within itself that is hardwired. The brain has no central processing unit because the heart does that. Valentine’s day is a cut off from that other part of yourself that does all the work. Your brain is just the projector. Your projector has images from all of your experiences, facets, beliefs, thoughts, and it filters everything that comes from the heart CPU. It rewrites the code of your perspective.

When you still the mind you leave filters off. Having no filter stops your mindstream. With no mindstream your quiet is actually the invisible plane of creation being still. Waiting for direction. The beginners mind is here. Ready, willing, open and hoping to learn, create, stimulate. In any number of coordinations of these possibilities lies the miracle of infinite probability. All odds are available. Any outcomes possible. All seeds are awaiting their great awakening.

If there is only the now, the past is gone, done never to be again, and the future is anything possible, but usually filled with worry, how can karma even exist? If karma is based on our choices and the consequences thereof, but the only thing that is real is the now, then how can consequences of choices made in the past even exist? The past is done. There is only the now.

If there is only the now, why are memories made?
If memories imprint the mind are they just filters for your projector?

It is here that I ask the question what if the projector can be used for things other than just coloring your perspectives with your totality as you are in the moment? But doesn’t that mean our totality at any given time is who we really are? Is it a matter of how awake are we to see ourselves?

Questions are like seeds. The thoughts produced from questions have the creative force of germination and can power birth.

Birth is what happens when you outgrow your perspectives because new experiences change your mind as to how you see and feel about things. Your reactions change and triggers heal, while other soft spots open up and reveal themselves so they too can be birthed into their own destiny.

What fuels the birth of stars in star nurseries in space, is the same as in your imagination and your ability to create space for new creation to make its way through you.

Have you ever asked yourself why ‘you’ have manifested as a human now?

Hate is learned and your cultural ties to it matter. The subconscious mind of a collective force is filled with the thoughts and creations of filtered mindstreams. Funneled into a collective space they become an entity and need to feed. Just like your ego. Quitting your ego is a possibility. But for those who haven’t learned how to yet, you fill your collective space with your thoughts, heart, actions, habits and its uploaded into that place for dinner.

You are what you eat.
At any given moment, in the now.
The past is done. Your consequences have no meaning now, unless you still need
the filter. The schoolhouse of karma is accepting submissions now, perhaps that is because there is still a need to help those along who are seeking answers to their own questions about life, pain and happiness. Seekers looking to have a swim in the ocean of leaning opportunity that offers. Life is eternal. Form is transitory.

I’d like to share a dream I had recently.

In this dream I was taken to the bottom floor of my mind by a rackety elevator, falling apart yet still functioning. It stopped just sort of a pile of rubble blocking the bottom of the elevator shaft. I climbed out and found myself looking around this large warehouse sized room. Despite the clutter at the bottom of the elevator shaft the room was dusty but uncluttered. Ahead of me about 30 feet was an old woman with white hair tied behind her neck. I thought to myself that there were scary things in here. The woman said “Try using your imagination that everything in here is good.” 

So I did, I had the thought that everything in here was good. And a pulse wave of energy burst outward through the entire space, the room, walls and beyond. I felt better so I walked forward. The woman with the white hair walked through a door on the far wall of the room, into what I assumed was a bathroom. As I came to be underneath a spiral stairwell, I sensed a small child standing next to me. I looked out from behind the stairs and saw a pterodactyl. I stopped moving forward and sunk back a bit. The pterodactyl was moving slowly towards the door the woman had walked through. I could sense the enormous power of this ancient predator. Suddenly another walked into view, and then another, and another, and another, and another as now a small herd all walked towards the door. Slowly, deliberately I backed away as to not get their attention. I knew if I even thought it they would see me. But even in just having that thought one turned its head towards me and made eye contact. I silenced my mind, held the glaze. It’s eyes began to grow into giant cartoon eyes. Still I had no thought except the observation. It turned its head back towards the direction of the door and joined the herd focusing their energy on it. 

I backed away, still sensing a child next to me, went back into the rackety elevator and pushed the up button. It opened to another level of my mind and the dream continued.

I share this part of my dream with you to offer a visualization of what it means to clear your foundations of fear. You are cultured to be afraid. Your society worships fear. You are fed fear for almost all aspects of your collective identities.  Take an honest look around where you are right now literally and in life. What are you afraid of? Your subconscious mind holds all of the fears you don’t even know you have. These include your cultured fears, deep-seeded subconscious fears lurk like ancient predators, hunting for whatever it is they feed on.

In this foundational part of yourself, you can imagine there is nothing to fear. Just in that simple act will the energy change and free you.

Liberation is available in each moment. It is a choice and mindful of the power of that choice.

The woman who walked in to my space offering her advice was heard, received, acknowledged and as I did what she suggested I made a space for her wisdom to be born through me. The door as I reflected later on probably led to somewhere else. Perhaps a faraway place. I made note of my own growth in my self-reflection, and smiled as I did.

Are you afraid of the pterodactyls?
The herd noticed the ripple of energy that came from my own realization that I could imagine it all to be good. By ‘good’ I mean nothing to be afraid of. They were curious as to what did that. They followed the trail as expert predators and found the source.

Was it the white haired woman who gave me the advice? or was it the door?

I checked into a Zen Buddhist Monastery for Valentine’s day. To self-love and create a safe space to seek refuge. I needed refuge. I was very aware of the world around me and in need of the wisdom from the monks. I learned how to bow. I learned how to better navigate my thoughts, the dreaming realms and how to deepen and better my practice.

I especially thank my new monk friend Yukon. Who listened, laughed and lightened things up for me as I entered the renowned Zen Buddists way for a short period of time, until I was full and ready.

Leaving the mountains and coming home was peaceful, obstacles better handled by a quieter mind. I realized that in going I was in fact arriving.

Hillary Raimo
Zen Mountain Monastery
Catskill Mountains 2020


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