"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about calming your mind and opening your heart 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, October 20, 2018

For Now

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is 
 to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man's-land, 
to experience each moment as completely new and fresh.   
― Pema Chödrön
“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

 
After raining heavily all night, the sun broke out moments ago.  Streaming through the window, it played across the floor as I entered my bedroom.  The windblown dance of light and shadow, woven of sun, tree, and partially open blinds brought a smile to my face.

Then, as quickly as it had emerged, the sun disappeared into the thick sea of gray clouds.  

That brought a smile to my face as well.  

I walked over to raise the blinds, expecting to see the glistening, now pink-brown, late autumn leaves of the crab apple tree outside the window waving in the wind.  Startled, I found I was face to face with the stark gray brown of mostly empty branches.  It was now Fall!  Only a few leaves, scattered among the wet branches remained.  "Oh yeah," I thought. "It rained hard all night.  Duh."  

I smiled again.

I guess I'm pretty easy these days -- at least much of the time.  I blame it on the Practice.
Once the fundamental Impermanence of what Uchiyama Roshi called "the scenery of our lives" is directly seen -- and accepted -- we have the opportunity to embrace Life itself as it emerges each moment with an increasing degree of ease, grace and kindness.  Within the ever-flowing energies that we encounter, we see that there is always nothing more, and nothing less, than Life as it is this very moment.

Although the thoughts and emotions that emerge from the causes and conditions of our personal and collective histories can make it appear otherwise, what is right there in front of us is a constant Invitation to the Dance.  We can either explore the possibility of opening our hearts and minds (and our eyes and ears and arms, etc.) to accept and appreciate the Absolute Miracle of the Mystery that we are part of each moment-- or not.  It's just that simple.

Of course, simple doesn't necessarily mean easy.  

It takes Practice.
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At the heart of Practice is a fundamental choice emerging from what Zen Buddhists call "the Way Seeking Mind".  A deep part of our nature calls us to get in touch with the Real Deal-- and we respond.  We set out, in one way or the other, to figure it out as best we can.  We choose to relate to our lives as a process of discovery.  Whether we take on a formal teacher or not, we become students of our lives.

As it is, we've often taken a lot of pride in what our hyper-materialistic society characterizes as "growing up," so we have to do some shape shifting along the way.  At a certain point many of us realize that it is best to approach things with the basic openness and curiosity we experienced as children.  In fact, Yogi Jesus is reported to have said this is a requirement for entering the Kingdom of Heaven.   As Suzuki Roshi presented it, Zen mind is the mind of a beginner.  We have the capacity to open to each moment, with the deep care and curiosity that emerges from not knowing.

Although a commitment to a meditation practice is an excellent foundation for honing our ability to settle down to perceive the reality of our own experience in deeper and fuller ways, 
the Practice actually develops and matures as we commit to bringing that same precise, yet open and relaxed, attention to the events of our day to day lives. 

Then, as the Practice deepens, we see clearly that our entire lives boil down to nothing more, and nothing less, than Life as it exists in the Present Moment.  

As we open to meet each moment as a teacher and a teaching, as we develop the willingness and ability to let go of our own preconceived notions and the many knots that our graspings and aversions produce, things get easier --  even in the midst of what we might call the "bad times."  

With Practice it becomes easier to discern and release the emotional reactivity of our conditioning and let go of the narratives that we've created to "know" what's going on.  It becomes easier to approach each moment with a childlike curiosity and without an agenda.  This changes everything.

Through the gracious spaciousness of not knowing, you don't have to work so hard.  As you perceive the fleeting and mysterious effervescence of each moment, you realize more deeply that it's not all up to you.  Seeing clearly that each moment is vast, a result of an infinite web of causes and conditions, you can relax.  And, if you keep your heart and mind open, what the Tibetan Buddhists call "Primordial Wisdom" emerges.   Compassion and understanding naturally arise.  At that point, you may even be able to help out -- or not.

It just takes Practice.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

thanks Lance for your beautiful musings! The last line was great....so much for expectations of ourselves....I had a good chuckle with that!