"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

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Nothing Special. No Big Deal. (Part Two)

“One can appreciate & celebrate each moment — there’s nothing more sacred. There’s nothing more vast or absolute. In fact, there’s nothing more!”  
-- Pema Chodron

“Living Zen is nothing special: life as it is. Zen is life itself, nothing added.” 
-- Charlotte Joko Beck

There's a first time for everything.  

I suppose there is a last time for everything as well.  Each unique moment arises and passes away within the flow of eternity.  It occurs so quickly that we can't actually grasp it.

With any luck at all, though, we can notice it, And, it seems to me, being Present, without judgement or commentary, is where the Real Magic exists.

Of course, this is easier said than done -- especially when I'm sitting at the computer intent on scribing a blog post.   

Usually I complete a piece and let it go.  Last week, I came to a point where I realized there was much more to say about the notion that there is really Nothing Special, that each moment of experience is No Big Deal.  I judged the commentary as incomplete.  Although what I was trying to communicate was beyond words, I still wasn't done.
Such is the human condition.

Which brings me to the Present.  Sort of...

Looking back to that post, I see that I wasn't satisfied with having proclaimed that in my Heart of Hearts I believed that everyone and everything should be loved and appreciated.  I then immediately went on to say that this was no big deal.  Seemingly, I'd proclaimed that Unconditional Love was nothing special.  Another way of saying that is "God is No Big Deal!" That sounded a bit blasphemous, no?

And yet, as I Sit here this morning with the sun playing hide and seek with the clouds in a crisp blue sky,
as I sit here listening to the sound of the neighborhood birds twittering outside the window, I again sense the Presence of the Sacred.  There is a brilliance, a vividness, a tangible energy to the present moment, a feeling of calm exhilaration.  And yet there is certainly nothing really "out of the ordinary" happening at the moment.   

Sun, clouds and sky are our common companions.  Birds twittering are, after all, nothing special.  They are simply birds twittering, right?  No big deal...

In the Zone

I've made a point of conversing about Spirituality with as many people as I could buttonhole for quite some time now.  Over the years, I've learned that most folks have experienced moments of being Present.  Most of us can recall moments where we felt more awake, connected to Life in a qualitatively different way than usual.   In fact, as children it seems we all may have been in "the Zone" quite a bit.   
We didn't need Zen training to get real.

To a child at play, there are times when Life simply is.  Fully immersed in the moment, free of plans and evaluations, as children, many of us connected deeply and directly to the vast reality of Pure Being -- with all its mystery and magic.   In the unbound mind of a child, the boundaries between possibility and actuality, between imagination and fact, were still permeable.   We hadn't yet been totally conditioned to disregard the spiritual dimension of our being.  (Lest ye be like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom...--J.C.)

Then, all too quickly in our lives, there came the Fall. 

Immersed in a highly materialistic and competitive culture that places a high value on so-called "rational thought,"we are quickly conditioned to believe that the world is divided between good and bad, right and wrong.  Following the lead of our parents and society, we learn to judge everything!  Tossed back and forth between the emotional energies of praise and blame, we are taught that there is success and failure, gain and loss, fame and disrepute.  Our sense of worth and well-being became attached to doing rather than being.

As this develops, we learn to make a Big Deal of lots of things.  In fact, we create our "identities" out of a set of strong likes and dislikes.  We attach great importance to some things, either chasing them or pushing them away.  Others we dismiss or ignore.  Stumbling ahead in this mode, our lives can quickly become an emotional roller coaster ride, mirroring that of our society.  How we feel can swing wildly on the victories and losses incurred by our favorite sports team.  In fact, conditioned as we are, our emotions can swing wildly on an umpire's call of a single pitch!

It Doesn't Get Any Better than This?

Even though most folks spend most of their time distracted by the swirling events of their lives, it seems that most everyone I meet has also experienced "perfect" moments, those times in which life was experienced differently.  In those moments, we felt connected, awake, alive in a qualitatively different way.  We were Present -- and we felt a Presence.

Although the Gateway of these perfect moments may have emerged as some sort of Big Bang experience with high voltage bliss and fireworks, it may not have.  This Presence may have been as simple as a "moment's peace," a clear, direct perception of the Simple Beauty of the world around us.   Ordinary events like sunrises and sunsets, or a full moon rising into a twilight sky, or a child's smile, are imbued with a sense of transcendence.  

For some of us, these moments at the Gateless Gate to Reality have been adorned with a feeling of soft melancholy.   In those moments, we touched the vast mystery of Life and Death spiraling throughout and beyond time. With this direct perception of the grand and fragile majesty of the human condition, compassion emerged.   Everyone and everything becomes worthy of our love.

And So?

I'm certain that a formal meditation practice isn't essential to cultivating a more consistent access to the experience of Presence, a quality of consciousness that isn't dominated and limited by what some teachers call "judgment mind."

I'm just as certain that it can really, really help.

As we become more mindful of our breathing and the sensations of our body, as we gently gain greater control over exactly how and where we place our attention, a whole realm of previously subconscious feelings and energies emerge and are healed. 

Over time, with Practice, our heart continues to open, our mind continues to clear, and we come to our senses.  Increasingly, we come to rest in the Present Moment.  There, the Sacred and the Ordinary dance, arm in arm, in the embrace of the One Love.

It's really nothing special.  It's no big deal. 

It's our natural state.



Anonymous said...

A most accessible and thoughtful writing. Thank you for writing this in a way that encourages my practice of being in the present and to be awake for those moments of knowing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lance. The value of our thoughts and experiences hold relative vale: they are everything and nothing, simultaneously. They are ideally enjoyed and shared in as much as they contribute in any meaningful way and your thoughts do. Please continue to enjoy sharing your reflections, they sparkle with sincerity and divine light.