"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.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Ya Think?

“The secret of Buddhism is to remove all ideas, all concepts,
in order for the truth to have a chance to penetrate, to reveal itself.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Buddha Mind, Buddha Body: Walking Toward Enlightenment 

Mere philosophy will not satisfy us. We cannot reach the goal by mere words alone.
Without practice, nothing can be achieved.
Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras



On the Way to the Bus
After a couple of weeks in which I encountered some degree of sadness and angst regularly -- on and off the zafu -- the weather shifted dramatically.

In the past few days,  I have experienced many moments of bliss and wonder amidst the late summer heat and humidity here in Western Massachusetts.  Obviously the external weather wasn't the primary cause of the shift.  I much prefer the cool and crisp weather that will emerge as the day's continue to shorten.

Yet, again and again, here it was: a sense of Boundless Amazement permeated my experience.  As I opened to the Gracious Spaciousness of Mindfulness and allowed my thoughts to wander off into the Stillness, it was obvious to me that you don't have to die to go the Heaven.  This is the Pure Land.  It dances and sings to us, vividly, in the silent contentment of our hearts. 

As is often the case,  a walk in the country made it relatively easy.  It happened  a couple of days ago as I walked to the bus.  I was awestruck.  The clouds and sky and hay fields and ridges made the words "white" and "blue" and "golden"and "green"  woefully inadequate.  As Jesus and Lao Tsu and Walt Whitman and a host of other seers and saints recognized: Mother Nature rocks!  

Getting Out of Your Head

When you come to your senses beyond the constraint of the thoughts running through your mind,  and really pay attention the lilies of the field, or the valley spirit, or the leaves of grass, the Ineffable Presence emerges.  Although I can sometimes wax poetic about clouds and sky and hay fields and ridges (e.g. "multicolored dancing", "vividly deep crystalline", "shimmering", "muted softly into grey green by the heavy breath of summer", etc.),  it is quite clear to me as I sit here at the keyboard: words can only hint at, not capture, the majestic and mysterious Essence of Life as it flows through the eternity of such moments.  Life, as it is, is nothing short of a Holy Miracle.

Yet,  you don't have to be outdoors surrounded by the majesty of Mother Nature to sense the inherent Sacredness of Life.  With Practice, is gets clearer that the same Presence flows through each and every moment -- wherever you happen to be. 
(READ MORE)
As we are less inclined to allow the story lines that emerge in our mind to dominate our attention, as we get more in touch with the Boundless Heart of Mindfulness, things get more and more amazing -- even without the supportive splendor of Mother Earth's natural poetry.   

Moments later that very same morning, I felt the Presence as I bounced along on the bus to Greenfield, engaged wholeheartedly in an insightful but lighthearted conversation with some folks from the Recovery Community.  I felt the Presence as I meditated with folks at the #OMG! Noon Vigil on the Town Commons in the midst of the hustle bustle of Greenfield's downtown intersection with truck engines roaring and ambulance sirens wailing.  (At that point, I engaged in Tonglen Practice, opening my heart to the tumult and pain and fear on the in-breath, radiating aspirations for peace and healing outwards on the out-breath from the Heart of Hearts that we share throughout space and time. )

Although, as you see, I can certainly ramble on about the Presence,  It's beyond words.


Yet, it's not that words are "bad" or that thinking is never helpful or useful.  It's an essential part of our humanness.  In fact, many Spiritual traditions, (including various schools of Buddhism) place a high value on rigorous thought, sacred words, scripture, stories and philosophy.  

Yet, with Practice we come to see how deeply the thinking mind can distract us and distort the world we are experiencing in any one moment.  

With Practice, we awaken to a realm of experience beyond the thinking mind, a quality of consciousness that we generally have been programmed to ignore.  With Practice, with our commitment and effort to cultivate the clarity, kindness and compassion that resides in our Heart of Hearts, the world we experience expands to embrace the miraculous that exits in the midst of the ordinary moments of our lives. 

How cool is that?

It just takes Practice. 

Originally posted, September 5, 2014.  Revised.

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