My peace is there in the receding mist
when I may cease from treading these long shifting thresholds
and live the space of a door
that opens and shuts
Samuel Beckett at his most zen-like.
What we call “I” is just a swinging door, which moves when we inhale and when we exhale.
Suzuki Roshi, Zen Mind, Beginners Mind.
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.
Be here now.
Be someplace else later.
Is that so complicated?”
David M. Bader, Zen Judaism
The wind blows through the sky and flies over continents without settling anywhere. It traverses space and leaves no trace. Thus should thoughts pass through our minds, leaving no residues and not altering our realization of fundamental simplicity.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Above all, don’t try to become a future Buddha.
Your only concern should be,
as thought follows thought,
to avoid clinging to any of them.
Dogen, Buddhist priest, 1200 – 1253, Founder of the Soto school of Zen
There’s an exercise that can help us reflect on the knee-jerk tendency to cling to what makes us feel good and push away what makes us feel bad:
Sit quietly for a few minutes and become mindful of your breath as it goes in and out. Then contemplate what you do when you’re unhappy or dissatisfied and want to feel better. Even make a list if you want to. Then ask yourself: Does it work? Has it ever worked? Does it soothe the pain? Does it escalate the pain? If you’re really honest, you’ll come up with some pretty interesting observations.
Pema Chödrön, Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change