How we grow

Our practice throughout our lifetime is just this: At any given time we have a rigid viewpoint or stance about life; it includes some things, it excludes others. We may stick with it for a long time, but if we are sincerely practicing our practice itself will shake up that viewpoint; we can’t maintain it. As we begin to question our viewpoint we may feel upset, as we try to come to terms with this new insight into our life; and for a long time we may deny it and struggle against it. That’s part of practice. Finally we become willing to experience our suffering instead of fighting it. When we do so our standpoint, our vision of life, abruptly shifts. Then once again, with our new viewpoint, we go along for a while – until the cycle begins anew. Once again the unease comes up. And we have to struggle, to go through it again. Each time we do this – each time we go into the suffering and let it be – our vision of life enlarges. It’s like climbing a mountain. At each point that we ascend we see more; and that becomes broader with each cycle of climbing… And the more we see, the more expansive our vision, the more we know what to do.

Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen: Love and Work

What is the way

P1000367When Zen Master Joshu was a young monk he asked his teacher Nansen, “What is the Way?” His teacher replied “Your Ordinary Mind is the Way”. By “ordinary” Nansen meant the mind Joshu already had; he didn’t need to turn it, or himself, into something else. He didn’t need to put, as the Zen saying goes, another head on top of the one he already had. Unfortunately, these days, when we hear the word ordinary, we are inclined to think it means “average or typical” or even “mediocre”. We contrast ordinary with special, and decide, given the choice, we rather be special. But our practice wont make us special; it will keep bringing us back to who we already are.

Barry Magid, Ending the Pursuit of Happiness

…and not being disturbed.

The reason why silence is so disturbing to us [is this]: As soon as we begin to become silent, we experience the relativity of our ordinary everyday mind. With this mind we measure our space and time coordinates, we calculate probabilities and count up our mistakes and successes. It is so useful and familiar a state of mind that we easily think it is all there is to us: our whole mind, our real selves, our full meaning.

Laurence Freeman

At ease where we are…

When we learn to be where we are, we gain perspective on life. Yesterday loses its hold on us and tomorrow loses its allure. Where we are becomes the ground of our salvation, the reason for our joy and the acme of our salvation…..Mindfulness calms the storms of life and gives them meaning. [It] makes the present, present and gives us back the energy that endless worry and countless calculation drain. It concentrates what has become scattered and brings us home to ourselves.

Joan Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily

Being with, giving attention

What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them. Psalm 4

Mindfulness is love that resists distraction. It is a staunch refusal to fall into absentmindedness. It is focused, sustained attention toward the beloved. In this way, mindfulness seems less tied to the cognitive functions of the mind and closer to what we call an act of will. Mindfulness is choosing to cherish and then choosing – again and again – never to back away from that initial decision. Devoted spouses, dedicated friends, caring parents are all mindful of the ones they love. Above all else, God is mindful of humanity. On the basis of this primal act of divine will, we can be assured that God’s attention never wavers.

Mark Ralls, Living by the  Word: Mindful

Our capacity to accept things

Meditation doesn’t change life. Life remains as fragile and unpredictable as ever. Meditation changes the heart’s capacity to accept life as it is. It teaches the heart to be more accommodating, not by beating it into submission, but by making it clear that accommodation is a gratifying choice.

Sylvia Boorstein, Don’t just Do something, Sit there