"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.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Reality Asserts Itself

"...Please understand, you have inherent in your very Mind a huge potential, an incalculable brilliance, an ability to see the reality of this moment clearly."
-- Harada Roshi, opening talk,
Rohatsu Sesshin, Sogenji Monastery, 2011


"Delight in itself is the approach of sanity. Delight is to open our eyes to the reality of the situation rather than siding with this or that point of view."
— Chögyam Trungpa, The Myth of Freedom

Approaching my 69th birthday, I rarely sleep through the night these days.

Generally, I have to roll out of bed and walk a few steps into the adjoining room. There, I participate in one aspect of this Grand Recyling Project known to some as Samsara.  Depending on a multitude of factors ranging from things like phases of the moon, to what happens to be on my mind that particular moment, I then usually plop right back into bed and meditate back to sleep, often catching a few dream bubbles along the way.

Sometimes, something else happens.

Last night, as I crawled into bed, I heard the winds howling outside the window.  I then felt a bit of coolness on my skin from a draft finding it's way under the blanket that hangs over the window alongside my bed on nights like these.  Curious, I pulled a corner of the blanket up to take a peek.  I found myself gazing in awe at the sight of trees dancing wildly outside the window as a frigid windsong played across the blue-white snowscape.  Under the influence of a brilliant moon that was only a sliver past full, the surreal world outside the window was luminous.  It seemed to glow from within.

I was dumbfounded.  Thoughts, being irrelevant, incapable of grasping the majesty of the moment, pretty much just went on their merry way, leaving wonder in their wake. I was all eyes and ears.  Transfixed, I don't know how long I was present to that particular miracle before I let the blanket fall back across the window, rolled over, and returned to sleep through feelings of wordless wonder and soft, sleepy delight.

As beautiful as the scene outside my window was last night, I also know the Reality of it.  According to the National Weather Service, the raw temperature at 4 a.m at a small airport near here was -13°F.  The windchill was -22°.  Given different circumstances, that scene wouldn't be so delightful.  It would be deadly. 

In the grand scope of things, it is always like that, right? 

Although we don't like to face it, Life itself is a deadly proposition.  Without exception, life a terminal condition.
(READ MORE)
Most of us have grown up in a society that tries to assiduously avoid that piece of information.  As a  result, an incredible amount of psychic energy is bottled up in repressed fear and grief, or dissipated in vicarious "entertainment" and adrenaline rush "recreation".

In the hustle bustle and scurry of everyday life, many of us are acting like we are going to get out of here alive.  This creates an incredible lack of perspective and focus.  A lot of mindless activity,  pettiness, and unnecessary foofaraw dissolves immediately when the Big Picture is brought into view and we see the screen reads THE END. 

In the Buddhist tradition, the inevitability of Death is seen as a fundamental truth that, once faced, enlarges and deepens our motivation and capacity to realize our True Nature. 
Reminders are widespread among the various chants and teachings.  When I was in residence at Zen Mountain Monastery years ago, the Eno would recite the Evening Gatha at the end of his day's final meditation service. 

Let me respectfully remind you.
Life and Death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken!

Awaken! Take heed.
Do not squander your life.


Reality asserts itself.  

The Zendo at Zen Mountain Monastery
Although the passionate "striving" to Awaken that was evoked in the stirring words of the Evening Gatha years ago has been transformed through Practice into a decidedly lighter touch, a bit more gentleness toward myself and others, the bottom line is clear: I Practice because it's a matter of Life and Death.  Rather than freak me out, this elicits a commitment and discipline that flows from something so deep in my heart that it is beyond me.  A Truth beyond words, I call it One Love these days.  Others, simply call it Life.  In its embrace, I'm blessed with Great Delight and Clarity at times -- and plenty of opportunity to explore my own ignorance, angst, and confusion at other times.   More and more, although different, those moments are one and the same.

It just takes Practice.

(Last week I had considered following the recommendation of Thich Nhat Hanh to practice a Day of Mindfulness each week.  This week I've seen my plans surrounding that commitment morph and change a number of times as new projects emerged.  I could easily dismiss the idea as "impractical" in light of current realities.  Yet,  at this point the plan is to pull the plug tonight and do a Sabbath Day of Mindfulness tomorrow.  Stay tuned. --One Love, Lance )

4 comments:

Marian Kelner said...

Your description of the emergence from thoughts into the wonder outside your window is beautiful.
The realization of what it is to view it from a warm, cozy bed and what it is to be in the cold and wind is profound.

Thank you.

Marian

Marian Kelner said...

Your description of the emergence from thoughts into the wonder outside your window is beautiful.

The realization of what it is to view it from a warm, cozy bed and what it is to be in the cold and wind is profound.

Thank you.

Marian

Anonymous said...

Although we don't like to face it, Life itself is a deadly proposition. Without exception, life a terminal condition.
(READ MORE)
Most of us have grown up in a society that tries to assiduously avoid that piece of information. As a result, an incredible amount of psychic energy is bottled up in repressed fear and grief, or dissipated in vicarious "entertainment" and adrenaline rush "recreation".

In the hustle bustle and scurry of everyday life, many of us are acting like we are going to get out of here alive. This creates an incredible lack of perspective and focus. A lot of mindless activity, pettiness, and unnecessary foofaraw dissolves immediately when the Big Picture is brought into view and we see the screen reads THE END.

Profound paragraphs. Thanks!

Skeets Smith said...

THE END will occur.

It will occur sooner if I dwell on that eventuality.

It will occur in my:

Psychological
Emotional
Spiritual
Existential


...Reality