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Posts Tagged ‘Hakuin’

Although in Buddhism we don’t usually call what we do “meditation” we use the word “sitting” instead. But for the general public I guess that word would be strange and confusing since we “sit” in the car, at our desk or kitchen table, or in front of the TV in our living rooms each day. However, that may not help us much to live a life directed by the Eightfold Path–one of peace, love, and compassion. In fact, it may do just the opposite and bring in to our lives—tension, angst, and fear. Well, maybe once in a while it might bring us a smile, some joy, and some creativity—you never can tell.

As a Unity minister I taught a lot of meditation and prayer techniques one was called “Sitting in the Silence.” In Buddhism we can begin by sitting alone at home or in a park or by a river, or a mountain or we can go to a place where others are practicing and sitting together. It does not matter. What matters is having some time alone to sit quietly to “still” the mind and release any thoughts quickly and with ease, to not hold on to them or ruminate over them, but to free them.

We have a simple phrase to help us quiet the mind and free the thoughts: “Just this.” Every moment and every event in life is “Just this.” Nothing more and nothing less, “Just this.” So when that to-do list begins to roam around your mind you can say not now I am just sitting in the silence, “Just this.” Nothing more and nothing less. We learn how to release the judgment, the anger, the fear, and the thoughts and if need be go back to counting or observing our breath and soon even that will not be necessary and after a while the silence will appear on its own.

For some it may take weeks, months or even years to attain the silence, but what does that matter. It is the effort that counts and the results are optional. As we follow the Eightfold Path we internalize the path and begin to walk the talk automatically. We act ethically and compassionately instantly without even thinking about it. We design a peaceful life without even realizing what we are doing until someone might comment on it and you respond, “Really I guess my time “sitting” has begun to show in my outer life not just my inner life.”

Russell Simmons in his new book Success through Stillness Meditation Made Simple writes:

I won’t lie, it did take me a long time to get here. Years and years in fact. As I’m quick to tell people, I had to do a lot of damage before I finally accepted that I liked early-morning meditation better than late night drinking. But once I did come to that realization, there was no turning back. (pages 15-16)”[1]

We may not be rich and famous but our lives can be improved little by little each day if we decide to “practice meditation” on a regular basis. Thich Nhat Hanh author and Vietnamese Buddhist Priest recommends 10-30 minutes each morning. “Woe to those who seek far off and know not what is close at hand. They are like people standing in water and shouting for water nonetheless.” (Song of Zen Master Hakuin) If what you seek is peace of mind and body this can come with a regular practice of meditation (sitting). Why not start today—just like Russell Simmons—you’ll be glad you did.

In gassho, Shokaiingassho

[1] Simmons, R. (2014) Success through Stillness Meditation Made Simple. Penguin Books: NY, NY

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