There is a guideline and protocol at the Monastery that we do not enter one another’s hermitage unless guided to do so for some specific purpose, such as assistance with a repair or something like that. Some time ago, the Monastery cat, Francis, stayed with me in my hermitage as he recovered from an illness. After his recuperation was complete, he was moved back into his own “hermitage.” For a period of time afterward he would come to my porch and ask to come in. I project that he had enjoyed taking his afternoon nap on the foot of my bed and wanted to continue that practice. I wanted to let him in, but something felt off about it. I couldn’t identify exactly what would be wrong with his visiting me in my hermitage. I mean, he’s a cat; it’s not like he was another monk. But that niggling feeling suggested there was something – some karmic process – in play. It dropped in to seek guidance, communicate, and to hold the question as a koan.
In practicing with it, I saw that during his recuperation Francis had not stayed with me as an individual person, he’d stayed with me in my role as a monk at the Monastery. Caring for him during his illness was a role I’d been asked to play to support a fellow monk (albeit a cat monk). His lodging with me had been within the guidance and structure of our roles, and therefore to have continued a “personality relationship” would have been a misguided and false assertion that I-as-an-individual-self exists at all! It was my looking at it on a content level (what’s wrong with having a cat in your hermitage?) that had obfuscated the karmic process at play (I’m a me.). When all that dropped in, the relief and joy was palpable. I did a little happy dance and of course made a recording to celebrate the seeing. There is no me – yippee!
It was ALL Awareness/Buddha Nature –
Awareness had communicated through the niggling feeling,
Awareness had dropped in guidance through the structure of the Monastery,
Awareness received the insight, and
Every structure within Practice is designed for us to transcend the illusion of a separate “me” and to realize the Everything-is-the-Buddha nature of Existence. In this case, the structure was that of interacting within roles, not as individuals or personalities, and it served me well. How utterly fortunate we are to have found Practice and choose to let its structures reveal to us True Nature!