Archive for January, 2015

New things are exciting. Especially spiritual practices. But after a while they lose the luster, and you either accept that you now have to put effort into it or you leave it behind and move on to the next exciting thing.

Mindfulness sounds great, Zen sounds great, and they’re rewarding when you first start working with them. They’re fun! But sooner or later comes the time when you know you “should” be mindful, but you simply don’t want to. You know that responding from your hara brings your best Zen result, but you find yourself choosing to react from your “little self”.

What then? Don’t expect yourself to be perfect! Let go of what you “should” be doing and deal with the situation without any guilt. Later you can return to being mindful. But when you do, remember how things had gone, and use that memory as inspiration to strengthen your practice.

If you turn your mindfulness practice into a habit, that habit will carry over into your next “little self” episode and make it easier to release your story and respond sanely to the current situation. This is why we often use the word “training” in Zen – more and more it becomes your natural action to respond from that place of mindfulness instead of the place of reactivity. But again, no one is perfect, so don’t expect yourself to be! As soon as you’ve cooled down from the emotional involvement, let it all go and return to your cycle of mindfulness.

Eventually it won’t matter anymore – your consistent training will let you be mindful through everything that happens, whether it’s fun or not fun.


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Seeing the One Body

Are you in conflict and competition with those around you? Are self-promotion and defensiveness needed for survival?

The more we practice Zen and Mindfulness the more we become aware of what I call the One Body – the universal “Me” that is actually all of us. Not only we humans, but, as Dogen-Zenji put it, “… mountains and rivers and the great wide earth, the sun and the moon and stars.” All are part of this one mind, this one body. Distinct, yes, but still unified like your two hands being part of the same body.

As your awareness increases, more and more you interact with other people and things the way your two hands interact – washing each other when needed, painfully removing splinters when needed, clasping when needed, leaving each other alone when needed.

When you closely look at the boundaries that separate you from everyone else, how solid are those boundaries, really?

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