Posted inHenry's Messages

Message from Henry: Inner Beauty Industry

January 27, 2016

…the Dharma is untouchable, undistortable, unsulliable.


Perhaps meditation will only really take off when there’s an “inner beauty industry” to match the regular outward one. It may be coming. I recently heard about a “meditation feedback monitor” that scientists and engineers have invented, whose screen shows you how you’re doing in your meditation, how quiet your mind is getting. It turns blue when you’re “in the zone” – when the midline network of the brain is getting less active.

The day could come when people can post the clarity of their latest sit on facebook or some other app, and who knows, it could even become an essential stat in the world of dating. Nice job, nice car, nice personality, etc. – but how’s your inner beauty, can we get a read-out on your “mindfulness” please?

On the one hand, there may be just about nothing commerce can’t try to coopt. And on the other, the Dharma is untouchable, undistortable, unsulliable. “Words can’t touch,” said Sekito. “No-words can’t touch,” retorted his brilliant student Yakusan.

We can have confidence we’re always in good hands. The Dharma simply can’t let us down.

* * *

A question that often comes up for people new to meditation is whether it’s compatible with other traditions, such as Judaism or Christianity. Since meditation is a way of opening up ever more to our humanity, why would it not be? Yamada Koun said, “If you’re a Christian, Zen practice will make you a better Christian; if you’re a Jew it will make you a better Jew.”

My own teacher, Ruben Habito Roshi, went to Japan as a young Jesuit, and while there got interested in Zen. It seemed it might offer a way of coming to a more immediate experience of God. Sure enough, he found it “worked,” and after some two decades of training, left Japan as a Zen master.

He was actually guided toward Zen by another Jesuit, the remarkable Father Lassalle, who had survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. He was living less than a mile from the epicenter of the blast when it went off, and somehow made it out alive. Right after, he petitioned the then-Pope for permission to set about building a “Cathedral of Love,” as some have dubbed it, in Hiroshima, and traveled the world collecting donations. Construction began in August 1950, exactly five years after the bomb, and today the World Peace Memorial Cathedral is a great testimony to peace. Lassalle himself became a Zen master, while remaining a Jesuit all his long life.

I came across another pertinent story recently. When Swami Yogananda was encountering difficulties in the US, he wondered if his great venture of sharing the wisdom of his Hindu masters with the West might be collapsing, and whether he should pack it all in and return to India. He was standing on the steps below his hermitage, on the cliffs near Encinitas, California, pondering his situation, when a light appeared in the sky, and out of it came… not Shiva or Krishna… but Jesus. At that point, he knew he must continue his mission and service to all humanity. Truly, no matter the nation or culture, we were all in this together.

Message from Henry taken from our January 27, 2016 Newsletter.

Image: Inner Orchid, by Efraimstochter, CC-0 Public Domain, from

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