Posts Tagged ‘Buddhism. Zen Buddhism’

“The sacred dimension is not something that you can know through words and ideas any more than you can learn what an apple pie tastes like by eating the recipe. (pg. 25)” writes Adyashanti in his e-book The Way of Liberation: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment.  Yet we continue to look for the answer to this question throughout our lives partaking in religious services in all faiths and traditions, in reading books, taking workshops and classes, and reading blogs like mine.  We ponder questions like:  Why am I here? What is life all about? Is there a God?  What is enlightenment?  Why are there wars?   .  .  .and more!

Adyashanti goes on to write, “The modern age has forgotten that facts and information, for all their usefulness, are not the same as wisdom—and certainly not the same as direct experience of reality.  We have lost touch with the intuitive wisdom born of silence and stillness, and we are left stranded in a sea of information that cannot deliver on its promise of ever-increasing happiness and fulfillment (pages 30-31).”

Wisdom is not the same thing as knowledge and much of the “knowledge” we share and seek, and create  is found through books, websites, YouTube, lectures, workshops, famous speakers, preachers, rabbis, and imams, and not through personal experience, inquiry, meditation, contemplation, or inner discovery.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a college professor and so I love all of those things and suggest that my students use them during their studies and courses, but I do not consider the results acquired “wisdom.”

In the Bible we call the book of Proverbs the Wisdom book its purpose is stated in the first seven verses:

“Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise.  Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.  These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge, and discernment to the young.  Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become wiser.  Let those with understanding receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables the words of the wise and their riddles.”

Notice the words do not say anything about facts and information, but wisdom gives “insight to knowledge.”  Maybe that is the problem with our lives and our world.  We are relying upon knowledge instead of wisdom and insight and therefore screwing everything up—our environment, our government, our educational system, our healthcare system, our drone wars, our obesity dilemma, and our neglect of the poor, hungry, and homeless around the world.

Adyashanti goes on to write, “. . . you are not the thoughts in your mind.  By removing the false belief that any thought can tell you what you are, you make space for a deeper understanding to reveal itself (page 29).” That “deeper understanding” is wisdom.   So how do we get to that “deeper understanding” or wisdom?  He suggests and so do I: meditation or sitting as we call it in Zen Buddhism.  Some of you may be thinking I’ve tried it and it didn’t work.  I did it once some years back and nothing happened.  Others may be thinking, “I don’t have the time in my busy schedule to take a leak no less meditate!”  Others may be thinking, “I have ADHD—meditate—you must be nuts!”

Adyashanti says, “Meditation is more a form of silent prayer than a technique to master.  . . . it is the highest form of prayer, a naked act of love and effortless surrender into silent abyss beyond all knowing.  Meditation is the art of ‘allowing everything to simply be’ in the deepest possible way. (pages 20-21).”

When you do this for one minute or one hour or one day or one year without any expectation of knowledge or wisdom, or peace and love, you will find the taste of apple pie to be something like nothing you have ever tasted before.  The apples are crisper and tarter and sweeter, the cinnamon and sugar is just right, the crust is light and flakey, and all is right with the world.

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Chill out I said to my 92-year-old mother with Alzheimer’s as she was pacing around the house for about one hour saying “let’s get out of here.”   Needless-to-say, we had just come home from running errands, volunteering at her church with the clean-up committee, grocery shopping, and visiting the library.  I thought about her and 99.9% of the rest of us running away from silence, quiet, peace, sitting and simply enjoying doing nothing!

When did we unlearn the art of leisure?  If we watch some old black-and-white movies we often see people in lawn chairs reading, or writing a note to a long lost friend, or sharing a glass of lemonade with a family member or neighbor.  We may even see them taking a leisurely stroll on the shore, through the woods, or across a large green expanse with wild flowers strewn about.

My best friend Pat gave me a wonderful little book by David Baird, A Thousand Paths to enlightenment (2000), and in it he wrote, “There is no greater curse than the lack of contentment.”  What does contentment mean to you?  If you were asked to define it what would you say?  If you were asked to give an example out of your life what would it be?  How long would it take you to remember it?  How long ago was it?  Mine was just last night.

As I waited to pick up a friend from his new job I gave myself time to listen to a beautiful CD that I checked out from the library entitled “Holy Harmony” by Jonathan Goldman.  When I read the back of the case it said it was specifically written for deep relaxation and healing.  After a busy day of work and errands and helping my mom and my friend I sure could use some relaxation.   And boy did I get it!  The CD is one track that lasts 72 minutes.

I turned down the lights, propped myself up on my bed with a bundle of lovely pillows, put the ear buds in and spent the next 72 minutes in another world.  Only a few times did any thoughts enter my mind beyond the thought of how relaxed I was, or how beautiful the chant was. I repeated the words a few times to embed them in my memory, creating new synapses that I could recall when I needed the relaxation and did not have access to the CD.

How fantastic the mind is when we just let it relax for a few minutes.  Les Kaye in his insightful book, Zen at Work (1996), writes, “Our minds move constantly: we cannot stop them.  If we try to stop our minds, we do not understand their nature.  Zen practice is to stay aware of our moving minds to recognize their movement but not be distracted by it.  Not being distracted by our moving minds is how we quiet them.  So there is no need to try to stop our minds.  We just try not to be caught by their movement.  Then we can see how things really are (page 129).”

Whether you practice Zen or any other contemplative practice you can still learn how to “chill-out.” I read a book many years ago that asked the reader to spend 24 hours in bed when they were NOT sick—just to see if they could do it.  The author said that most people cannot do it!  We have this Puritan work ethic drilled in us that tells us that unless we are “doing” we are “nothing” or “no one.”  Yet, all the great thinkers, philosophers, and spiritual leaders throughout time took many hours and even many years just sitting,  or meditating,  or praying, or walking, or hiking around their countries contemplating the beauty of their mind and spirit.

Let’s take the time this year to find as many places and ways as possible to simply “chill out.”  Discover for yourself what that word means, what it looks like, what it feels like, and respect and love yourself enough to go forward with your chill-out time!  If you don’t you just may end up dead in mind, body, or spirit from the stress of non-chilling!  Goodness gracious that would not be an adventure you would want to embark upon for 2013—would it now?!

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