With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,
Welcome to all of the new members of Zen Living, as well as the others who receive my scribbling.
It is very early in the morning, but I went to bed very early last night. We had Sunday dinner with the kids and Livvie and, well, I just needed to go lay down. Sometimes life is like that.
For sure Zen is like that. We teach ourselves to pay attention and respond accordingly. My sense is that Zen practice is a practice that enables us to develop an early warning system which we already possess, but which we do not develop naturally or with any degree of skill. We call this system, mindfulness.
Mindfulness practice begins on the cushion. We place our attention on our breath and notice. What comes up? How does it come up? What does it lead to? All the while releasing and going back to our breath. We get up from the cushion and notice the floor and our feet. We notice our body's age or its suppleness or its resistance to moving or its desire to move. We notice the feel of the door handle in our palm as we open our meditation room door and step out. What comes up?
Zen is a process of noticing what comes up, responding accordingly, and releasing it.
So, what does respond accordingly mean? As we get to know ourselves we notice ways in which we respond that are helpful and ways which are not. We notice irritation, joy, comfort, annoyance, love, sadness. We respond to these feelings in ways we think we help. A buddha is one who responds for the sake of others. A buddha is selfless. A buddha is open and compassionate, embracing, and nurturing. Yet, a buddha is also awake and knows when he cannot be these things. A buddha also knows his limits.
Mindful practice helps us to learn and establish these limits and respond to them in ways which are helpful. So, last night I retreated into the bedroom and lay down on the bed. It wasn't long before I was asleep and in the process of taking care of myself and, in so doing, taking care of others.
Now it is 4:19 AM, I have written my morning message to you and will probably slip into the Zendo shortly.
May you each be a blessing in the universe.