Taiwan remembered. Once again I'd like to thank everyone in the I-Kuan Tao community, in the US and in Taiwan, for taking us in and providing a most wonderful and unique experience. Though Derek tried to foretell of the wonderful reception we would receive it just wasn't possible. At times it was quite simply overwhelming! The connection that we felt with everyone, this "affinity", if you will, is what intrigued me most during our visit. The topic of karmic affinity was discussed a number of times by various masters. There was also a wide-eyed curiosity among many that we met regarding how and why we "Westerners" had come to have an affinity with the Tao. I think the answer lies in the understanding of karmic affinity. The following is what karmic affinity has come to mean to me as I travel along my path.
In the spiritual plane, we have this "karmic ocean" of the birth/life/death cycle. In this ocean we are all related and throughout hundreds of thousands of physical life cycle manifestations we've played every part in a universal, timeless epic. We've been father, mother, sister, brother, teacher, lover, ruler and slave to all those with whom we share this karmic affinity. We've all had those moments when we experience an inkling of knowing, a knowing that cannot be explained by the scope of our life experience. This odd and inexplicable knowing is, I believe, something like a soul whisper, a breeze blowing across that vast karmic ocean. It is our infinite soul informing our current life predicament. It is our current karmic affinity that sets us into direct contact with those we have and will meet during this life cycle. As Tao cultivators we share a karmic affinity of spiritual awareness and exploration. We are here, now, with the opportunity to help one another grow and evolve toward an enlightened existence of perfect harmony, natural balance and loving compassion - a loving compassion directed toward all beings.
As the word "cultivate" suggests, following our path is not a passive pursuit but rather an active process of disciplining and perfecting the mind toward a constant awareness regarding our own true path. We therefore strive, within the spirit of Wu Wei, to keep this awareness connected to the present moment. This is the Buddha Nature that lives inside us all.
I ask this question of myself: How can I be indiscriminatingly, unrelentingly compassionate? Compassionate with that friend in need, that bothersome neighbor or even that driver who has just made me see red. How can I be like the thousand armed bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara, ready to provide just what's needed at just the right time? I believe I must practice, through my cultivation of the Tao, a well-grounded willingness to meet every challenge head-on without fear, staying firmly in the present moment. And through this practice I'll be able to take control of my karmic responsibilities to myself and to those with whom I share a karmic affinity.
The trip was truly enriching as it provided a foundation of learning and understanding which is constantly helping my personal cultivation of the Tao!