In my life-long impatience, how much I have missed. Last night, washing the dishes, I really looked at my iron frying pan in the dishwater. The light made visible for a moment a tiny rainbow — a light through water revealing all the colors of life. It is so easy to miss the tiny symbols. Finding them is quite different from the business of trying to hatch up big symbolic experiences. It is recognition, not pursuit, of meaning — recognition of the sacramental, of the intersection of the two worlds, breaking through unsought because one is attending.
Helen Luke, 1904 – 1995, Jungian Analyst and writer
Zen is really just a reminder to stay alive and be awake. We tend to daydream all the time, speculating and dwelling on the past. Zen practice is about appreciating your life in this moment. If you are truly aware five minutes a day, you’re doing pretty well. We are beset by both the future and the past, but there is no reality apart from the here and the now. So this is a very concise teaching about zazen [sitting meditation], just a reminder to stay alive and be awake. Notice how much you tend to dwell in the past and speculate about the future; it will help you to practice more in this realm of appreciating your life in this moment.
Zenkei Blanche Hartman, Seeds of A Boundless Life
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
Wendell Berry, How to Be a Poet
We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is.
Necessary advice for life in Ireland, but in a more general sense it is a way of working with the mind. Once we fix on one desired result, inevitably the alternative seems a disappointment. Appreciation is a peaceful state of mind.
For after all, the best thing one can do
when it is raining
is to let it rain.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807 – 1882, American Poet
Strive for the effortless.
Find flavor in that which has no flavor.
Deal with the small as if it were the great, deal with the few as if it were the many,
Respond to resentment with virtue.
Plan for the difficult while it is still easy;
work on the great while it is still small.
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, 63