With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,
This morning I woke later than usual. It was 6:30 or so. I made the coffee, offered incense, and practiced meditation. I have been studying both a text on Mindful Jewish Living and a text on Mussar, called everyday Holiness. I am impressed with how both of these texts dovetail and reference very similar practice techniques of Zen. It would seem that mindfulness, introspective ethical practice (Mussar), and Zen take us to a very similar place. I say they are the same: each is a practice, each aims to assist us to awaken to the present moment, each points to that awakening as a deep understanding of the oneness of all things. Easy said, but very challenging in practice.
Take patience, for example. Patience is one of Buddhism's "paramitas" or perfections. We practice to become the very embodiment of patience, yet as soon as something doesn't quite go my way, as a Mussar teacher alluded to, we close the space between the match and the fuse.
A contemplative practice is a practice that allows us to open the space between that match and that fuse. Much like the metaphor of opening the hand of thought, we practice to separate our behavior from our impulse. Or, as I was prone to teach at my Zen Center, "sit on your hands!"
To do this we must really study ourselves: what are our matches? What are our fuses?
But then, we must be willing to pause.
It is this willingness that is so often absent and no wonder, we are a culture of impulsivity. We are a culture that defines itself through its wants rather than its needs, its advertising rather than its reality. We sustain idols of "I" and see others as "it". There is little to no "Thou" in our lives. When we live for ourselves, partner, speak, relate and listen with an ear toward "I", then impulse to meet the needs of "I" is perfectly understandable and yet, so predictable.
More often it is far better not to speak, not to act, than to do or say anything. Sometimes our best practice to let go. In such an open place we can be present.