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Posts Tagged ‘the mind’

Once again I opened up this wonderful book “Teachings of Zen” getting ready to write the next section of my newest blog.  It is the first week of our new year 2019 and I was thinking about what I accomplished in 2018 and what I might accomplish in 2019 and then I read these words:

book cover Teachings of Zen Thomas Cleary“You do not plunge into sentiments of the ordinary, nor do you fall into the understanding of the sage. Empty and spiritual, serene and sublime, you do not tarry anywhere but attain fulfillment everywhere.

At this time you should know there is a final statement; only then are you a mature person. Completing the task of the mature person is called transcending the world in the midst of the world, highest of all. Hai-yin (page 142).”[1]

The first paragraph resonated with me as I thought about the juxtaposition of these two ideas. The ideas that we hold in Zen Buddhism are just exactly as Hai-yin describes: empty and yet spiritual, serene and at the same time sublime.  It is exactly like all of our lives the opposites that seem to attract each other, the time on the cushion when we attempt to “empty” the mind and yet think of our spiritual character and that being the reason we are trying to “empty” the mind.  Yikes!  The juxtaposition of the conundrum of the teachings of Buddhism.

And yet Hai-yin ends these thoughts saying: Empty and spiritual, serene and sublime, you do not tarry anywhere but attain fulfillment everywhere…. Completing the task of the mature person is called transcending the world in the midst of the world, highest of all (page 142).”[2]

Your challenge of this year will be transcending the world while being in the midst of it.  Let’s not be bogged down in this process and adding to our troubles and woes.  Let us just be aware of the juxtaposition of life and stroll through it with ease, peace, and compassion for self.  Let’s look down on our selves as if we were out of our bodies simply watching and listening without judgment.  Let’s transcend our fears, likes, and dislikes and remember it’s “just this” and nothing more and nothing less.

[1] Cleary, T. (1998)   Teachings of Zen. New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc

[2] Ibid.

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Look, Look, the year draws to an end!  Calligraphy from, Moon By The Window, The calligraphy and Zen Insights of Shodo Harada.

In gassho, Shokai

Quote Shodo Harada Look LookLook Look calligraphy Shodo Harada

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As I was listening to a Rod Stewart album (“It Had to Be You, The Great American Songbook”) this morning he mellowed into a beautiful rendition of “For All We Know.”  This verse jumped out at me like a lightning bolt, “We come and go like a ripple on a stream.”  It brought to my mind’s eye the vision of a beautiful stream in the mountains that contains all the debris of a forest from small pebbles and stones to leaves and flowers and moss each floating gracefully along with the pull of the earth drawing them to various and sundry places to lodge who knows where.  It was an analogy of my life for sure.

Sometimes I feel as though the stream is flowing faster than I can manage, and other times it is meandering along at a smooth and subtle pace where my mind may sit and rest like the family I observed one day floating down the Tellico River in TN in huge tire tubes smiling, laughing, and enjoying the lazy trip.

There is an adage that goes something like this, “You can never step into the same river twice.”  Why” Because the river is different every moment with what it catches and carries along with it.  Exactly like my mind.  Each situation brings with it different thoughts, emotions, worries, joys, and jubilations.  Depending upon how much “thought” and “time” I give each one of these things is how my day, week, month, year, and life will go.

Being mindful of the multitude of things that could be drifting along with me down this river of life makes me realize how life is such a great and hidden adventure to be enjoyed and shared and used each and every minute of the day.

As I continued to listen to Rod sing this verse appeared, “Tomorrow was made for some, Tomorrow may never come for all we know.” And what then—does  my river stop flowing?  Or does my river flow elsewhere? Will my river grow, disappear, or simply swallow me up (whoever that me is).  Or does it drop me lovingly into a new world beyond my human mind’s ability to even imagine? Remember he sings, “For all we know—this may only be a dream”

Just like in lucid dreaming we can manipulate the dream as we please.  If we find ourselves falling off of a tall building we can spread our arms and fly upward just before we hit the pavement and slowly and softly land ourselves upright on the pavement or grass.  Ah, the power of those lucid dreams!

If we have the power to master the lucid dream, why do we so often lose the power to master our lives? Or maybe we are not supposed to “master our lives.”  Maybe our lives, as the Zen Buddhists say are “Thus.”  Maybe they just “are.”  Or maybe life just “is.”  These thoughts meander through my mind as I write this blog like the leaves and stones floating down the river, never to be seen again…

And thus today, “We come and go like a ripple on a stream.”  And for others, “tomorrow may never come.”  I wonder which will be mine and what I will do with it when I get there…wherever there is.

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