Resting kindly

Where is our comfort but in the free, uninvolved, finally mysterious beauty and grace of this world, that we did not make, that has no price?

Where is our sanity but there?

Where is our pleasure but in working and resting kindly in the presence of this world?

Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace

Ingrained filters

Out of nowhere, the mind comes forth.
The Diamond Sutra

Working with this koan alters how I might meet the world in two ways. In one twist, it opens life up in a way where I can’t expect anything to happen outside of the now, and in another, the koan takes my attention to my thoughts and opinions about what I come into contact with each moment. …

The fact that I take mundane shrubs, trees, stray cats, and rain squalls for granted or even consider them to be inconvenient nuisances is something the koan quietly forces me to examine more closely. What would life be like without these images, moments, and experiences? Do I create an inner world in which only some of what is present makes it through my ingrained mental filters? If yes, what would happen if I deconstructed these borders and removed them? Maybe everything that graces my life has a subtle extraordinariness and that allowing this connection to blossom on its own is a practice that takes place naturally when I just begin to notice.

Don Dianda, commentary on Zen koans in the Huffington Post


Sometimes it is better, when we we feel groundless and uncertain, to resist the drive to make a situation right or wrong, and instead to trust in an underlying flow.

Once the whole is divided, the parts need names.
There are already enough names.
One must know when to stop.
Knowing when to stop averts trouble.

All things end in the Tao, like a river flowing home to the sea.

Lao Tzu, Tao te Ching, 32


A monk once asked Joshu, ‘Who is my teacher?’

Joshu said, ‘Clouds rising out of the mountains, streams entering the valley without a sound.’

The monk said, ‘I wasn’t asking about them.’

Joshu said, ‘Though they are your teachers, you don’t recognize them.

from Henry Shukman, One Blade of Grass: Finding the Old Road of the Heart

This world

Zen is the opposite of withdrawal from the world. It’s a radical acceptance of life, the pain and suffering no less than the beauty of the dawn skies, of the sea in rain, the mountain dark under morning clouds, and the shopping list. Unless a path leads us back into the world — reincarnates us, as it were — it’s not a complete path. For Zen, this life, this world, is the very absolute. Making a cup of tea, fetching milk from the fridge, standing outside on the front step, watching the remains of a storm drift across the dawn sky, and hearing the drip-drip of rainwater into a puddle from a roof are miracles. The miraculous, in the end, is the fact of anything existing at all.

Henry Shukman, One Blade of Grass: Finding the Old Road of the Heart, a Zen Memoir