We like to live in our heads – our thinking minds – and we presume that this gives us the best information about the world, However, our refuge should be in moment-to-moment direct sensing of experience. We are patient, not rushing to interpret or make judgments as to how our life is going:
The instruction and teaching of the actual body is the harbour and the weir.
This is the most important thing in the world.
It is beyond explanation
We just accept it with respect and gratitude
Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
as if it as the axis on which the world revolves
Thich Nhat Hanh
Zen teaches that our approach to today determines our whole approach to life.
The Japanese call this attitude Ichi-nichi issho:
‘Each day is a lifetime.’
Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen 24/7
A similar theme, this time from the Christian tradition:
Nothing lasts. No single thing can consume our entire life’s meaning. No single thing can give us total satisfaction. Nothing is worth everything: neither past, nor present nor future. It isn’t true that the loss of any single thing will destroy us. Everything in life has some value and life is full of valuable things, things worth living for, things worth doing, things worth becoming, things worth loving again. It is only a matter of being detached enough from one thing to be open to everything else.
The essence of life is not to find the one thing that satisfies us but to realize that nothing can ever completely satisfy us.
Joan Chittister, After Great Pain: Finding a Way Out
The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for.
The …thing in the cave, that was so dreaded, has become the center.
There’s a kind of basic misunderstanding that we should try to be better than we already are, that we should try to improve ourselves, that we should try to get away from painful things, and that if we could just learn how to get away from the painful things, then we would be happy.
When we practice meditation, we practice a double movement: there is a movement of return to the breath, a movement of recollection of presence, of samadhi — and there is a movement of mindfulness, of allowing everything to be just as it is. Last Sunday, I realized that the movement of return can also be a movement of allowing, of self-forgiveness. All the prodigal sons and daughters of our thoughts and dreams and gnarly little complexes are welcome to come to the feast of this present moment.
Tracy Cochran, Be a Lighthouse
life as it is
the only teacher.
Zen Center of San Diego, Practice Principles