You deal with your shit in Zen by sitting with it. By breathing right into it. You don’t try and ignore it with pleasant thoughts or lofty ideas, and you don’t try and bury it with solutions.
You deal with it, you work with it, one breath at a time.
Gento Steve Krieger, Head monk Rinzai-ji Zen Center, Los Angeles, Growing Ground
Life is difficult, the Buddha taught, for everyone. Suffering, he said, is the demand that experience be different than what it is. Of course, we do what we can to address pain. Sometimes illnesses are cured. Sometimes relationships are mended. Sometimes losses are recouped. Sometimes, though, nothing can be done. The Buddha’s teaching of liberation was that peace of mind is possible, no matter what the circumstances.
Sylvia Boorstein, It’s All Happening to All of us, All of the Time
The lives of all beings are marked by three characteristics: impermanence, egolessness and suffering or dissatisfaction. Recognizing these qualities to be real and true in our experience helps us relax with things as they are. The first mark is impermanence. That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and changing, is the first mark of existence. We dont have to be mystics or physicists to know this. Yet at the level of personal experience, we resist this basic fact. It means that life is not always going to go our way. It means there’s loss as well as gain. and we don’t like that.
Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty
These T-shirts we fold into
perfect white squares
These tortillas we slice and fry to crisp strips
This rich egg scrambled in a gray clay bowl
This bed whose covers I straighten
smoothing edges till blue quilt fits brown blanket
and nothing hangs out
This envelope I address
so the name balances like a cloud
in the center of sky
This page I type and retype
This table I dust till the scarred wood shines
This bundle of clothes I wash and hang and wash again
like flags we share, a country so close
no one needs to name it
The days are nouns: touch them
The hands are churches that worship the world
Naomi Shihab Nye, Daily
I wake clear and rested, light flooding my room. The day seems endless and free.
But making coffee, I notice three bills I haven’t paid and after showering I notice I need a haircut, and since I’ll be out that way, I think I might as well pick up my shirts. But I so want to spend time in the sun. So I think, well, after these errands, I’ll go to the park, and then I deliberate which park will be just right and decide on one forty minutes away. Finally, wanting to make sure there is some fun in all of this, I call a friend and plan to meet her at a movie at six.
Now I have to hurry along to make sure I can get everywhere on time. But, thankfully, while gassing up, I hear a small bird and lift my head just as a cloud opens and the light floods my mind, and I drop all my plans like change on the ground.
I laugh at myself. I can so easily become a slave to a schedule I create.
Not one of these things is necessary today. I drop everything and follow the bird.
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
I know now, after fifty years, that the finding/losing, forgetting/remembering, leaving/returning, never stops.
The whole of life is about another chance,
and while we are alive, till the very end, there is always another chance.