Message From Henry: On the Enlightened Way

What is this “unsurpassable enlightened way” that we vow with our whole heart and whole being, to embody?

This week we have a piece written by Ruben Habito, Sanbo Zen Teacher at the Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas. Enjoy!



The enlightened way is unsurpassable …I vow to embody it. This is the fourth vow of the bodhisattva. This is the aspiration that propels us in our practice. What is this “unsurpassable enlightened way” that we vow with our whole heart and whole being, to embody?

Here’s a hint: it is living right in the very midst of our everyday life, but in a way that sees everything that occurs with the eyes of the heart. How do we see “with eyes of the heart”?

In the Gospel of Luke, Mary is described as observing the things Jesus said & did from the time he was born until maturity, and that “she treasured all these things in her heart.” The entire message of what is known as the New Testament is grounded in the understanding that the Divine Reality, bigger than anything we imagine and which is the goal & purpose of all existence, became flesh, took on this earthly existence. In short, the Divine became THIS very reality we experience day to day as we course through our human life…

That’s the Good News: the Divine Presence right in our midst: the word is Immanuel in Hebrew. With her eyes opened to this Divine Presence in her own life, Mary treasured all this in her heart. Such also are the eyes of Kwan Yin, or Kannon, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

Kannon is the One who “perceives the sounds of the world,” with the eyes and ears of the heart, a heart out of which flows infinite compassion for all beings.

Our practice enjoins us to put on the eyes & ears of Mary, the eyes and ears of Kannon, and from this angle see everything that occurs right in our midst. In short, it is a way of seeing that overcomes the dualistic frame of mind we are in, a way of seeing that overcomes the wall our deluded views have constructed between ourselves and the rest of the world, between one another. With those walls dissolved, our vision is cleared to “see things as they are,” in a most intimate way, without separation or discrimination, right here, right now in this very moment.

Let us pause and ponder this tea ceremony that we have just experienced. In the feel of the warm teacup felt through my fingers, in that sip of tea, in that lukewarm bitter sourish sweetish taste of the liquid as it descends down our throat and esophagus and merges into the body. In the sounds that strike the eardrums… human voices coming from the hallway… the whirr of the fan, a plane passing through overhead…the feeling of an aching back or aching knee. In the people, each of the persons around this circle, sitting in silence, just sipping their tea. Any of these singular moments is a gateway to the infinite horizon right before us, and fill our hearts with tremendous peace, and joy, and gratitude. If we can see with the eyes of the heart, we are opened to a divine reality in our very midst! The enlightened way is unsurpssable, I vow to embody it.

Written by Ruben Habito and originally published in the Maria Kannon Zen Center Winter 2017 Newsletter

Ruben Habito began Zen practice under Yamada Koun in Kamakura, Japan in 1971 when he was a Jesuit seminarian in Japan. He came to Dallas in 1989, and is now married with two grown sons. He is a faculty member at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology where he teaches World Religions and Spirituality, and directs the Spiritual Formation Program.

Images: 1) Rose by Annca, CC0 Public Domain 2) Ruben Habito from the Maria Kannon Zen Center website.
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