“There is a time when you ‘die’ to yourself, a time when you let go everything, experience the void, and surrender yourself. You walk along in the dark, guided by the light of the heart, now stumbling, now wandering, yet always moving on the right path. When you respond in compassion your heart experiences peace, joy, freedom. The heart feels touched and it responds, no whys, no reasons, no explanations. You awaken to the world as your very self. The world is yourself and you are the world. – AMA Samy, Zen Heart Zen Mind
If you are ready to experience an authentic Zen Master for yourself, please join us at Grailville, Loveland, Ohio September 19-28, 2014. There will be a beginner’s retreat for 3 days September 19-21 and a 6-day silent retreat September 23-28.
AMA Samy, Jesuit Priest, Zen Master, and Joyful Teacher
One event I have yet to disclose in my India travel blog, but for which it is probably time, is this: While at the Zen Meditation Center in Southern India in 2011, I became an initiate of Zen Master AMA Samy and a member of the Bodhi Zendo Sangha.
Upon arrival at Bodhi Zendo, on my intrepid journey to India, after traveling 3 hours in a frightening taxi ride up that crumbling mountainside, I thankfully alit at the welcoming doorstep of Bodhi Zendo. In a foreign land with little Zen training, I had no idea what was coming, yet within moments, my heart, in it’s deepest recesses, resonated a profound energy of contentment.
Having never before affiliated myself with any “belief system” or “spiritual path” it was with a strange sense of belonging that I knew instinctively my way forward was to follow the gentle and brilliant man who created this haven for seekers. 3 months later I took the vows to follow this Master, his wise teachings and the Bodhisattva path.
Father AMA’s story…
Father AMA’s presence is the expression of freedom. At 77 he’s spry, smiley and warm. Fr. AMA Samy (Arul Maria Arokiasamy) was born of poor Indian parents in Burma in 1936. As a boy he came into some contact with Burmese Buddhism and Buddhist monks. Back in India after the War, he was brought up for a few years by his maternal grandfather, who was a devotee of a Muslim saint and was caring for the burial shrine of the saint. The grandfather died in an accident leaving the young boy without support and guidance. However, the boy finished school and joined the Jesuits. Even after becoming a priest, his heart was restless after God. His heart was not fulfilled by the then Christian spirituality. He began visiting Hindu ashrams and Buddhist meditation centers. He was introduced to Ramana Maharishi by Swami Abhishiktananda, and was much moved by Ramana’s vision. His quest and searching led him to become a wandering beggar for a while and settle down as a hermit near a holy shrine; the village people fed him. It was the Zen way which drew him most. With the help of Fr Enomiya Lassalle, he went to Japan and was able to train with Yamada Ko-Un Roshi of Sanbo Kyodan. In 1982 Yamada Ko-Un gave him transmission and authorization to teach. Fr AMA Samy is rooted in Christianity and in Zen; he can be said to stand in-between Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. He stands true to Christ, true to Zen and true to the human heart-mind. Fr AMA Samy spends a few months every year abroad, in Europe, Australia, and the US, teaching and helping his students. He is the founder of Bodhi Sangha and Bodhi Zendo in Southern India.
In addition, Father has built a Montessori School for the poor village children in Southern India, began a non-profit organization called “Little Flower,” which helps young girls develop skills that will pull them out of poverty, and provides on-going medical assistance to the local villagers. More information can be found at www.BodhiZendo.org
AMA Samy has written 4 books
- Zen: Ancient and Modern The Way to the Heart-Mind
- Zen Meditation for Life and Death, Christians and Therapists
- Zen: Awakening to Your Original Face
- Zen Heart Zen Mind
A summary of his teachings from my first Teisho were
- Question everything
- Find your way and walk your path
- We are here for one another
- Face death
- As you live your life, ask if it brings you freedom, peace, joy, creativity and compassion. If not, find a life that does
- Commitment is most important, to your path, your spirituality, your relationships, your life
While my personal meditation practice continues to lack consistency, my love for this man and his teachings will forever fill my being. It was during my first private meeting in “Dokusan” with the Master, when I asked him “how to find myself.” His answer, in his low, slow voice with a hint of laughter, “In order to find yourself, you must lose yourself.” In the presence of this most compassionate man my heart broke open and tears began to flow. I was in the perfect place to let go of everything in order to find my inner truth.
The next time I had Dokusan with the Master, I asked him “How do I find the heart-mind?” Another message that brought me to tears in his long drawn out manner, “Accept yourself.” So simple, yet so difficult. How does one forgive oneself for the past?
The more I study Zen, the more I realize the importance of letting go of the ego-self and opening in compassion to yourself and to the world. Father calls his unique brand of Zen “Freedom Zen.” Simple really, and perhaps that is why I love it so. And so that brings me to the end of another chapter and the beginning of the next.
His most important message and the one that lingers for me now is this: “You must bring your “Self” to the Marketplace.” I’m working on that now, and am not sure when the next blog will appear but I do know that it is certainly time to share what I can with the world. If you’re interested in discovering more about your inner self, give this retreat a try. It’s a beautiful gift, and you deserve it.