I could never “successfully” meditate until finding my Jizo. Maybe I was too young, maybe my ego could not surrender to the process (likely it really hasn’t even now but there has been some progress).
What I have found is that the grounding aspect of Jizo, whose Sanskrit name – Ksitigarbha – means Earth Womb, activated an archetype within me that allowed for a sense of Universal Groundedness. Allow me some metaphysical, maybe magical, thinking here. So long as the ego was in charge of my meditation, it resisted emptiness. There was something nihilistic about my approach.
Once I began to practice a kind of compassion, a motherly approach to my busy mind – my monkey mind – I began to get glimpses of peace. That peace didn’t usually happen in the first ten minutes of meditation, but closer toward the end. The real “work” of my meditation was extending the time of peace in increments until I could commit to sitting for half an hour in the morning without judging what was arising in my mind. Then, I began to enjoy what was arising. I was entertained by my thoughts. Then, I went through a heavy period of producing creatively while meditating. I still am apt to find that arising. No matter. On the cushion, I am what I am.
If I come up with an image, I sometimes sketch. But rarely. Now and then something amazing happens outside the windows and I have to take a photograph. No big deal. There is no one to rap me on the knuckles if I am not acting enlightened. All enlightenment means is to be awake. When I am awake, I see more clearly and sometimes I wish to capture what I have seen with such clarity. I painted my first Jizo during meditation — the one that all the jewelry is based upon. I have written down one line — the beginning of something I will write later — because it appeared and persisted to reappear during my sitting.
Something about Jizo holding the baby safely, holding all beings safely, allows me to find a kind of inner safety on the cushion that I can reclaim at any time of day, even when challenged to critical mass (e.g., yelling in the car). I observe myself with compassion. I wish the same for you in the coming days.