"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about progressively opening your heart and calming your mind enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."
Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call! Musings on Life and Practice by a Long-time Student of Meditation.
“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”
"Judge not and ye shall not be judged"
― Yogi Jesus of Nazareth
don't the think there is any greater freedom than being Present to our
lives without the distortion caused by Judgment Mind.
mental/emotional process of evaluating what we experience as bad, wrong,
condemnable can dominate our lives.
one is paying attention, the difference between the warm, bright,
spaciousness experienced as we maintain the clarity of an open heart and mind,
and the constricted, narrow, claustrophic texture of a quality of
consciousness imbued with judgmental thoughts and feelings, is obvious.
In any one moment, it can literally be the difference between heaven
up immersed in a society that is highly judgmental, most of us have
been deeply conditioned to experience our lives in terms of good/bad,
right/wrong, should be/shouldn't be. In fact, our ego sense, with its perceived separation and isolation from "the other" is largely built on and
maintained by the thoughts, opinions, and various mind states that emerge from this
conditioning. Even in it's mildest form, that of liking/disliking, Judgment Mind generates thoughts and feelings that serve to separate us from ourselves and
others in any particular moment.
It is actually quite fun to see for yourself how that plays out on the meditation cushion.
times, we can clearly see Judgment Mind in full blown operation. The
gracious spaciousness of mind at rest collapses as the ranting and
raving and blaming of judgmental thoughts cascade across the surface of
Practice develops, we get more adept at noticing whether we can just
take a breath and put some kindness and space around that and let
Judgment Mind go it's merry way-- or whether we get swept away,
ultimately getting judgmental about being judgmental! Watching the
process closely, it can pretty quickly become another obvious example of
the Divine Sitcom that we humanoids are capable of co-creating.
one of those episodes, I saw how the thoughts "I don't like myself. I'm bad."
provided a wonderful opportunity to examine the experience carefully, in
the lens of Mindfulness. Letting go of that particular narrative, the
experience became a
kaleidoscope of momentary feelings, variations of what we might label as
anger, fear, and pain. Without the support of the storyline, these feeling states
soon dissipated. At that point, exploring the obvious paradox of just "who"
the hell it is that doesn't like "who" eventually produced wonder -- and
“The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner’s mind.”
― Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
"I tell all of you with certainty, unless you change and become like
you will never get into the kingdom of heaven."
--Jesus, Matthew 18:3, ISV
awoke this morning to the sound of rain and crisp, cool air floating
through the windows alongside my bed. Un-detered, the chorus of songbirds sang their parts in the pre-dawn symphony as I
rolled over and set the alarm to 6:30 a.m to give myself a couple of
more hours of sleep. Moments later, I rolled over again and turned the
alarm off. Although I had thought otherwise, I was ready -- or so I'd
thought. I got up and sat down to the laptop to stare at a blank screen
-- and waited. And waited. And waited some more.
awhile, I got up again, set the timer, walked over to the altar in the
corner of my bedroom, lit a stick of incense and Sat down in front of a
different blank screen.
Now, an hour later, I'm ready. I think.
is a well known story from the Meiji era (1868-1912) about a prominent
university professor who visited master Nan-in to inquire about Zen. As
the professor prattled on, demonstrating his vast knowledge of Buddhist
philosophy and doctrine, the master began pouring his guest a cup of
tea. He then continued pouring as the cup overflowed onto the table and
floor. No longer able to restrain himself, the professor shouted,
"Stop. The cup is overfull! No more will go in!". Nan-in replied, "You
come and ask for teaching, but your cup is full; I can't put
anything in. Before I can teach you, you'll have to empty your cup."
Although I first read that story in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones
back in 1970, I now realize I had only glimpsed the rim of that empty
cup. Even as a 24 year old, fresh out of college and engaged in my
first year of teaching school, I certainly "got" that there is a
difference between the accumulation of knowledge and wisdom. By then,
I'd run into factory workers during my seven years of summer employment
that appeared to have a better handle on what the Real Deal was than
most of my college professors. I also sensed from the story that
arrogance probably wasn't going to cut it with a Zen master, a fact that
I've had verified a number of times over the years.
Little did I know, though, that this teaching, like the coffee down at Dolly's Diner, was being served in a bottomless cup.
I cast the 6th slogan of the
Lojong Teachings yesterday: "In post-meditation, be a child of illusion." One of
the most haunting of the 59 aphorisms that make up this Tibetan
Buddhist system of mind training, it is also, perhaps, one of the most
radical. It seemingly flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Rather
than exhorting us to "grow up and get real", we are encouraged,
instead, to recapture the open and spacious sense of wonder that
characterizes the mind of the child as we arise from our meditation
cushion to move through the day to day activity of our lives.
Mindfulness Practice develops and we become more acutely aware of the
fluidity and transparent nature of our own thoughts and emotions, the
ephemeral nature of "mindstuff" (READ MORE)
"Things are not as they seem - and nor are they otherwise."
-- Lankavatara Sutra
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake
is to be continually thrown out of the nest.”
I'm awake at 4 a.m. and the birds are beginning to stir in the darkness outside the window -- an hour before sunrise. Sunrise? Calling that moment "sunrise" is, of course, a classic case of our
human propensity to conceptualize things from a limited perspective.
That isn't really a problem. The problem is that we then tend to grasp
onto the words that describe those relative positions as the absolute
truth. This leads to a whole lot of delusion and suffering.
I imagine any number of Zen students
over the years have been whacked by their teachers along the way for
being so sloppy in their use of language as to appear to be claiming
that they really know what is going on -- while missing the point entirely. If I choose to believe what I learned back in science class in elementary school -- and in
this case I do because it seems that we have actually had some folks
brave enough (or crazy enough, perhaps) to place themselves on top of a
huge tin can full of explosive chemicals to be then catapulted high enough into the sky to look over their shoulders and
take snapshots of our situation from a different perspective-- the sun isn't actually rising at
all. It's got a different set of motions through space. We could just as readily call that magic moment of cosmic peek a
boo "earth-fall" -- although that doesn't seem nearly as promising. (READ MORE)