"Mindfulness and Meditation allow us to open our hearts, relax our bodies, and clear our minds enough to experience the vast, mysterious, sacred reality of life directly. With Practice we come to know for ourselves that eternity is available in each moment.

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What Now?

"Life will give you whatever experience is helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.
How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience
you are having at the moment."
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
― Pema Chödrön

After raining heavily all night, the sun broke out as I came upstairs a few minutes ago.  Streaming through the south facing windows of my room here at 108 House, it played across the floor as I entered.  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 again 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 maple tree outside the window waving in the wind.  Startled, I was face to face with the stark gray brown of empty branches.  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

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 with an increasing degree of grace and kindness.  Within the ever-flowing energies that we encounter, there is always nothing more, and nothing less, than Life as it exists in the Present 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 appreciate the Absolute Miracle of the Mystery that we are part of -- or not.  It's just that simple.

Of course, simple doesn't necessarily mean easy.  
It takes Practice.

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.

Although we have to do some shape-shifting (we've often taken a lot of pride in what our hyper-materialistic society characterizes as "growing up"), we realize along the way 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.

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 curiosity and openness to the myriad interactions of our entire lives.  

Of course, our entire lives boil down to nothing more, and nothing less, than Life as it exists in  the Present Moment.  

As we learn to meet each moment as a teacher and a teaching, developing the willingness and ability to let go of our own preconceived notions and the many resistances that our graspings and aversions produce (or at least seeing them clearly), things get easier --  even in the midst of what we might call the "bad times."  Through the spaciousness of not knowing, you don't have to work so hard at it.  As you perceive the fleeting and mysterious effervescence of each moment, compassion and understanding naturally arise.  

It just takes Practice.

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