“We are always getting ready to live, but never living.”
What does that quote mean to you?
In Zen we have a practice of sitting zazen or meditating and Katageri Roshi, one of the most recognized Zen Buddhist priests in America, wrote this about the junction of these two ideas: living and buddha-nature. He says, “Don’t attach to thoughts and emotions, just let them return to emptiness. Just be present there and swim in buddha-nature (page xiii).” 
Just be “present” be ready to live each and every moment. As I found my mind wandering in meditation this morning I realized that I had just squandered away several minutes of my life! I just gave up the “present moment.” I missed the experience of the feel of the cushion beneath me, of hearing the breath of those near me, of the sounds of the cars driving by on the road, and of the birds chirping in the trees.
I forgot to live! What I was doing was getting ready to live later on by creating a conversation with someone in my head that may or may not even happen in the future. I was “getting ready to live” but not really living.
The Teachings of Ptahhotep tells us to “Follow your heart as long as you live (page 21).” But if you are living in the future with thoughts and fears, or living in the past with memories and regrets you are not actually “living.” What is your heart telling you to do right now? What are you doing right now? What are you thinking right now? Are you getting ready to live or are you actually living?
“Swim in buddha-nature” means to be fully present in the now moment. I love the picture that comes into my mind when he uses the word “swim.” I can see myself in the swimming pool at my grandmother’s house and since I could not swim on top of the water I had to always swim under the water there I was surrounded by buddha-nature above, below, and around me: swimming in buddha-nature.
I was really living! I had to be perfectly present in that moment in order to hold my breath, keep my eyes out for others swimming in the pool who might not see me below, and still keep swimming. I had to keep my mind on how long I could hold my breath, and when I was close to running out of air, and when it was time to start swimming to the top! One time I did not realize how deep I had gone and I panicked and thought I was going to drown! But alas, I was swimming in buddha-nature” and made it safely to the top before I ran out of breath.
Don’t be following what Emerson said, “We are always getting ready to live, but never living.” Don’t be that person! Be the one that is swimming through life with happiness and glee! Following your heart with each breath—in each moment.
Let me know how that “living” is going!
 Okumura, S. (2012) Living by Vow Wisdom Publications: Boston, MA
 Hillard A.G. Williams, L. & N. Damali Editors. (1987) The Teachings of Ptahhotep The Oldest Book in the World. Blackwood Press: Atlanta, GA.
  Floris, O. Inspiration & Wisdom from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson. http://www.odeliafloris.com
Posted in BUddhism, cause and effect, clinging, death, happiness, love, meditation, Mindfulness, Uncategorized, wisdom, Zen | Tagged anxiety, Asa G. Hilliard III, birds, Buddah, Buddha, Buddha-nature, Buddhism, challenges, compassion, contemplation, fear, happiness, Inspiration & Wisdom from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson, joy, Katageri Roshi, Larry Williams, life, Living by Vow, love, meditation, mindfulness, Nia Damali, Odelia Floris, peace, present moment, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Shohaku Okumura, sitting, The Teachings of Ptahhotep The Oldest Book in the World, Zazen, Zen, Zen Buddhism | Leave a Comment »
I was looking for a quote one day to use in a blog I was writing and I came across a great quote by Emerson. I remembered studying Emerson as an English major in college and just loved his writing and his progressive outlook on life. When I began studying at Unity Village to become a licensed teacher we often used his writings as well. And so he has been a part of my life for a very long time and I hope that he has been one of yours as well.
But just in case he has not I have been moved to write my next workbook on his quotes and writings and to share with you how they can be relevant in the 21st century—even though they were written in the 19th Century when horses were the main form of transportation, and slavery was still legal, and women did not have the right to vote. You’re probably thinking, “What could his thoughts and words have to do with me today? Plenty!
Let’s start with this quote from Emerson: “Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.”
Every day—all day we think! Our thoughts create our reality. Sometimes our thoughts slowly arise like a tulip as it breaks through the frozen ground at the first sign of spring. Other times our thoughts pop up when we least expect them to like weeds in a garden that we had just weeded that morning. Or are they like the massive cherry blossoms that appear in Washington, DC in the spring? Some of your thoughts simply fly away like the dandelion when it turns into a fluffy white cloud of seeds.
There is action like the fruit behind the cherry blossoms that we look forward to and expect. There is action behind the dandelion seeds as they fly through the air and plant themselves in our neighbor’s yard so their kids have to painstakingly dig them out as one of their summer chores.
What thoughts are you having right now that are taking action in your life? What thoughts have you had today, yesterday, and will more than likely have tomorrow? Do the seeds/thoughts produce positive events in your life, improved health, happiness, and friendship? Or are they like the dandelions that produce more weeds in the garden that take time, effort, and energy to get rid of?
So what is the thought you are speaking aloud and the action that has resulted from it? Are you living a life filled with cactus covered with thorns, or with the softest petals of the pink ranunculus each being a vision of beauty to the eye and softness to the touch?
If you want to change your life remember you’ll need a new thought—or a new blossom! Why not try something that has a wonderful smell that excites your senses like the jasmine.
What is blossoming in your thoughts and words today? What language are you speaking? What results are you creating? Change your thinking—change your life!
Remember, “Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.”
Keep me posted on that!
 Floris, O. Inspiration & Wisdom from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson. http://www.odeliafloris.com
Posted in cause and effect, happiness, planet earth, self-help, Uncategorized, wisdom | Tagged anger, beauty, cactus, challenges, cherry blossoms, compassion, dandelions, DC, Emerson, flowers, fragrance, happiness, jasmine, joy, love, Odelia Floris, patience, Ralph Waldo Emerson, ranunculus, seeds, spring, thorns, thoughts, Unity Church, Washington | Leave a Comment »
I just spent 5 days at a silent retreat (Sesshin) at the Brevard Zen Center in Coco Beach and I was surrounded by like-minded people. People who decided to take time off to focus on their practice, on stillness, on quiet contemplation, and on quieting the mind and body. I know that not everyone has the luxury of taking extended periods of time out of their family and work lives; however, if you can even take one day I recommend it highly.
Being around like-minded people can be an invigorating experience, or a hellish experience depending on which “mind” you are choosing to focus on. If you feel sometimes like an angry, unhappy person with a mind that’s always focusing on the negative you surly do not want to be around “like-minded people.” Today would be a good day to discover the happy, upbeat, positive, helpful people that you, at times, envy and sometimes dislike, and sometimes may even try to emulate.
I’ve had many people in my life ask, “What are you so happy about all the time, smiling, laughing, and joking? Don’t you know there are terrible things going on in the world or at work or at home?” Of course, I do know that life is not always a panacea; however, I’d rather create a life like Pollyanna then a life like the Wicked Witch of the West any day! Life is what you make it, unless of course you let outside circumstances or outside people like the Wicked Witch of the West make it for you? The choice is up to you.
I often relate a story about one of my congregants who came home from work and found a man in her house who proceeded to rape her and stab her 62 times. She lived and they caught the man and put him in prison. Her life seemed to be falling apart from that day forward until, as she says, she decided to forgive him and move on with her life. So she went to the prison, faced him, and forgave him. From there she began to heal to be able to live a normal life. She saved herself and spent the rest of her life living around “like-minded people” those who can forgive, and love, and reach out to others in times of need to help console and hold them up with love and compassion.
She is an inspiration to me and my role model for unconditional love. Till that time my love came with conditions. I have been lucky enough to have jobs like my work as a Unity minister, a hospice chaplain, a college professor, and a Zen Buddhist priest which has allowed me to be surrounded by like-minded people.
I hope you are surrounded by those people who will love you unconditionally and have a life filled with peace, joy, love, and happiness. A life filled with people that lift you up and not tear you down. This is my wish for you that you meet your good today and it is filled with like-minded people who will celebrate the uniqueness of you and see the good in your heart! Let me know how that goes.
In gassho, Shokai
Posted in BUddhism, cause and effect, Christianity, fears, happiness, hate speech, love, Mindfulness, prayer, psychology, religion, self-help, sexual assault, sickness, suffering, Uncategorized, Zen | Tagged anger, anxiety, Buddah, Buddhism, challenges, Charles Fillmore, college professor, compassion, contemplation, fear, forgiveness, happiness, hospice chaplain, joy, life, like-minded people, love, mind, mind and body, mindfulness, peace, Pollyanna, rape, retreat, sesshin, suffering, unconditional love, Unity Church, Wicked Witch of the West, Zazen, Zen, Zen Buddhism, Zen Buddhist priest | Leave a Comment »
My quote today is by Russell Simmons from his wonderful book, Success through Stillness Meditation Made Simple. In his chapter entitled “The Heaviness of Success and Failure” he quotes this phrase from the Bhagavad Gita “You have control over your work alone, never the fruit (page 116).” Then he writes
There are a lot of different ways you could interpret that passage, but to me it’s always meant “Stop worrying about how much money you make off your work (the fruit) and instead just stay focused on your work itself.” Because when you embrace the process of your work, instead of focusing on the results, you’ll always be happier, plus do a much better job (page 116).
For some your work may be school, some may be working on friendships and/or relationships, or working to stay clean and straight and not use. For others you may be thinking about a paid job where you earn your living. In life we want to be successful in all aspects of our lives not just at the so-called work that we may do for a living to support ourselves and our families.
I wonder what our lives would look like if we had the same definition as Russell Simmons. There are so many people throughout history that we could point to who simply did the “work” without focusing on the outcome or the money or the fruits of that labor. In Buddhism we study people like Thich Nhat Hanh who started out as a young Buddhist student, then monk, then founded the Engaged Buddhism movement in response to the Vietnam War. From there he served as the delegate for the Buddhist Peace Delegation at the Paris Peace talks in 1969 and the Paris Peace Accords in 1973 to help end the war. Today he lives in Plum Village in France surrounded by his students and friends.
Or what about those adventurous people in history like the Englishman Doctor David Livingstone who went to Africa in 1840 with two goals: to explore the continent and to end the slave trade. In 1871 Henry Morton Stanley went to find the then “missing” Dr. Livingston. Eight months later he found him and upon meeting is to have said these famous words, “Dr. Livingston, I presume.”
Success does not mean that you have to be as brave as Thich Nhat Hanh or as adventurous as Dr. Livingston and Henry Stanley, but I hope that it does mean you look within and discover your passion and run to it. Live it. Love it. Discover it. Find it. Share it. Meet it.
How far will you go for your goals, passions, and dreams? What will you do for success? Where will you meet your success today? Keep me posted I can’t wait to hear!
 Simmons, R. (2014) Success Through Stillness Meditation Made Simple. NY, NY:
Posted in BUddhism, fears, happiness, love, oppression, self-help, Uncategorized, wisdom, Zen | Tagged adventure, Africa, Bhagavad Gita, Buddhism, Buddhist Peace Delegation, challenges, compassion, Dr. David Livingston, dreams, goals, happiness, Henry Morton Stanley, love, mindfulness, money, Paris Peace Accords 1973, Paris Peace talks 1969, passions, patience, peace, Russell Simmons, success, Success Through Stillness Meditation made Simple, Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnam War, work, worry, Zen, Zen Buddhism | Leave a Comment »