Discovering for ourselves

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We live in a huge net and web of being, human and non-human and we have obligations towards it but the only way to fulfill them is by doing it from the inside. Not from the head, not from what we’re told to do, but to discover for ourselves what needs doing and then start doing it.

Jane Hirshfield

Bored with what we have

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Are you bored yet? Nowadays, boredom is considered a scourge. We blame boredom for the death of curiosity, learning, productivity, innovation, and commitment. Boredom is the antecedent to all kinds of distractions, disengagements, overindulgences, and infidelities…. When we’re bored, we go looking for something new. And let’s face it: we’re nearly always looking for something new. It doesn’t matter how much or how little we’ve got — how well we each manage our store of talents or prospects — we are somehow convinced that we haven’t yet got “it,” not enough to be completely satisfied or secure. We might think we need something as harmless as a cookie, a game, or a gadget — or another career, lover, or child. We might call what we want higher purpose, wisdom, passion, or simply a change of scenery. Until we are at peace with ourselves, the quest continues. Until we know that there is nowhere else to go, and nothing more to get, we are trapped in delusion.

Karen Maezen Miller

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Observing everything

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The essence of all practice, is to learn to look beyond the sensory world, learn to abide beyond perception. One way that we can do this is to look upon life as something that flows through the mind. Rather than thinking of oneself as a person who is going places, consider these as images going through the mind. Right now we have the image of the meditation hall; this is what we can perceive. The sound of this voice; the feeling of sitting on a cushion; the sense of sight; see that all these things flow through the mind like a current. When Ajahn Sumedho went traveling recently he said he made the determination before he left that he wasn’t going to go around the world, he was just going to let the world go through his mind. Afterwards he said the result was very peaceful: he went everywhere, saw everyone, did everything, but the sense of movement, of a person heading towards somewhere, was absent; there was stillness in its place.

 Ajahn Amaro

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Not being identified

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A student came to Zen Master Bankei and said: “Master, I have an ungovernable temper – how can I cure it?” “Show me this temper,” said Bankei, “it sounds fascinating.” “I haven’t got it right now,” said the student, “so I can’t show it to you.” “Well then” said Bankei, “bring it to me when you have it.” “But I can’t bring it just when I happen to have it,” protested the student. “It arises unexpectedly, and I would surely lose it before I got it to you.” “In that case,” said Bankei, “it cannot be part of your true nature. If it were, you could show it to me at any time. When you were born you did not have it, and your parents did not give it to you — so it must come into you from the outside.”

While anger is happening, if you suddenly become conscious it drops. Try it. Just in the middle, when you are feeling very hot and would like to commit murder, suddenly become aware, and you will feel something has changed: a gear inside – you can feel the click. Something has changed, now it is no more the same thing. Your inner being has relaxed. It may take time for your outer layer to relax, but the inner being has already relaxed. The cooperation is broken; now you are not identified.

Osho, And the Flowers Showered

Bankei, 1622 – 1693,  was a hugely influential Japanese Zen Master, who emphasized our Original Mind – the natural, unchanging,  goodness within – which he felt we simply had to tune in to,  and not identify with the different moods which pass through each day.

The Shore

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Beyond this shore and the farther shore,
Beyond the beyond,
Where there is no beginning, No end.
Without fear, go.

The Buddha

We live with many options. If we get bored with looking at a painting, we read something; when that becomes boring, we go for a walk, perhaps visit a friend and go out for dinner together, then watch a movie. The pattern is that each new arising, or “birth” if you like, is experienced as unfulfilling. In this process of ongoing need, we keep moving from this to that without ever getting to the root of the process. Another aspect of this need is the need to fix things, or to fix ourselves — to make conflict or pain go away. By this I mean an instinctive response rather than a measured approach of understanding what is possible to fix and what dukkha (suffering)  has to be accommodated right now.

Then there’s the need to know, to have it all figured out. That gets us moving too. This continued movement is an unenlightened being’s response to dukkha. That movement is what is meant by … “the wandering on” – within this life, we can see all these “births,” — the same habit taking different forms. And each new birth is unsatisfactory too, because sooner or later we meet with another obstacle, another disappointment, another option in the ongoing merry-go-round. High-option cultures just give you a few more spins on the wheel.

Ajahn Sucitto, Turning the Wheel of Truth