The integration of The Twelve Steps with Buddhism has become increasingly popular, as mindfulness continues to cross over from “spiritual philosophy” to practical, every day self-care.
This morning, it dawned on me that the words Buddha spoke upon his awakening were very much like those of people in 12 Step programs who have taken the 2nd Step in earnest. It reads:
“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.“
When Buddha awakened, he said:
“I have met the builder and broken the ridgepole. I shall not build that house again.“
Each refers to the ego-driven way of living that causes suffering. We cling to results, to people, to things…but when we let go of the ego, we feel sane.
The more we practice letting go of our ego-driven thoughts — with kindness — the calmer we feel. We are less likely to demand the world provide us with comfort instead of challenge.
So where does Jizo enter into it?
As the Earth Womb Bodhisattva, Jizo is literally Mother Earth — the eternal ground beneath our feet in a groundless world. When we cease clinging to ego, even for ten seconds, we feel as if we were falling into an abyss. That sensation of falling pushes us to abandon letting go, and head back toward for the comfort of ego. Unfortunately, this comfort is temporary — it does not further our psychological and spiritual growth.
So…what to do?
When anxious, obsessive thoughts arise, it is the ego — the builder of our neurosis — that we must not engage. Rather, we must breath, ask Jizo to hold the inner baby — the terrified, clinging infant within us — safely, so that we can transition into the next moment a bit less unfettered…
A bit more kind…
And a bit less neurotic…
Sounds too good to be true?