Zazen cultivates clarity and in time, the illusory nature of phenomena breakdown, allowing an experience of limitless, boundless peace. There is no other, no me or you, no being or non-being. Enlightenment has unfolded. Congratulations. What now?
Dissolve into infinity, and continue.
Realise the True Self, and continue.
Become One, and continue.
End, and continue.
The Enlightening process shouldn’t end in the World of one colour, the unified field, Oneness. To even consider this would be a mighty shame. To come back into the world of observances, and go on, continue, is the imperfect perfection of a totally ordinary Buddha.
Our relationship with the senses is vitally important. The senses by which the human condition functions aids one to navigate the terrain of existence and place ourselves in this complex web.
What if these abilities were no more? Plunged into no inside or outside, no boundaries, or reference points, no hard things? No things.
Like a vial of salt crystals, each with their own rigid shape, hardness, identity; each one individual. Plunged into the water, and with the input of energy, crystals dissolve, boundaries broken down. Still no crystal has left, yet there are no crystals there.
In our every day form we are crystallized, in a crystallizing reality. In this, there are limitations, there are beginnings and endings, there are hellos and goodbyes, there are hugs and embraces, there are punches and brawls, there is sensual pleasure, there is pain and anguish, there is life and death, there is you and I…
I ask you this: once dissolved boundless and infinite, are these aspects still present? Has reality changed, or perspective?
Have you ever felt like you’re losing your mind? Newsflash: You never had it.
Through insight meditation techniques, reality may be touched and “the mind” is nowhere to be found. Don’t take my word for it, take a look, get down to practice (I’ll keep this brief). The mind cannot be found, because it’s only a conceptual map. We can use the concept and the word in a helpful way to talk about an overarching of experiences but the mind itself cannot be experienced as the stable entity we take it for. Instead, what may be experienced is the pulsating stream of mental sensations, but such is the fleeting nature of reality, in the form of impermanence, anitya, these sensations are echoes and cannot be grasped. Maybe you want to call this the mind. But that would be to redefine the word and concept altogether.
Life can be sticky, it’s easy to get stuck. You feel like there is no way out and this is often accompanied by hopelessness.
Ask the correct questions and find out the nature of the stickiness. What are you stuck to? And how for how long? I hope that by asking and enquiring into the nature of how you are stuck, you can unstick yourself!
Why would this be the case? This may happen because what you are doing when you ask these honest questions is that you exercise one of the most magical faculties you have; imagination. The very phrase “I’m stuck” derives from a place of imagination. Extrapolate. By exercising the imagination, solutions become available, and asking is a great place to start this process.
Who are you asking? You are not alone. No one is. Not truly or absolutely. You may, or may not, feel alone, or experience periods of loneliness. I don’t deny you of that experience. But fundamentally, you are not alone. So when you ask, even if there is no person you feel you can ask and explore your life’s trends with, ask outwardly. Ask the Cosmos.
Some people would call it prayer. You may also, but you needn’t give it a name. What’s important is the process. Get grounded, sit with a confident and open posture, sit with silence for a while and then just ask “what am I stuck to?”.
Many will say they are, and many of those will be committed to a headache.
Many will say they are not; for they do not want it to become a rigid thing.
Many will say what practice? That has got to be a joke?!
Abhyāsa is the coming back, with gentleness, to the breath, to the cushion, to the Buddha within and around us, at every available opportunity, with regularity.
More than we commit to act out the desires of our egos, good effort put in can help us commit to practice.
Why practice? We practice for a whole number of reasons, each of us have different ones, but when it comes down to it our healthiest, and truest answer, is surely “to practice”. In this way, the difficult times in meditation don’t make it feel wasteful, or make us question it’s assumed efficacy, and our successes can be enjoyed but not expected; appreciated and not taken for granted. The cushion awaits
Patience. Patience isn’t a waste of time, even though it may seem like a literal waste of time on paper, it is anything but that. Patience paves the way to insightful thinking and view, thoughtful speech and receptivity. Sadly, patience is severely lacking in the modern world.
People’s perceptions of you and the workings of the world are incorrect and incomplete, they are mostly false and limited to cynical imaginings of vaguely recollected memories of experiences gone-by. And without a grounding spiritual practice that offers routine silence, cultivation of gentle awareness, compassion for all beings, and limitless insight into the workings of the world, is there any hope?
Please, please be aware of one’s own misperceptions, and rash and harsh speaking. It can do damage beyond the scope of your intended damage. But instead of putting one’s energy into feeling guilt from acting in this way, or fighting the feeling of guilt with a dangerous self-righteous facade; please let us practice patience.
Before you step onto the pedestal of righteousness and cause unintended damage onto the lives of others, which is never healthy for anyone, please let us be humble for we can not know fully any other person.
Those affected by another’s rash and harsh words, all of which are incorrect and harmful conduct, please let us continue to practice compassion towards all beings. You may have been affected but take a look into your own depths, your own life, and the good work you put in; for what matters is only ever that which is real, that which you can know but never coherently utter.
I mean in the literal sense; your actual real hands covered, layered maybe, in actual dirt, mud, earthly Earth.
How many of us can actually say that by the end of the day we will have, at least, touched the Earth, the real ground beneath our feet?
What has this got to do with your inner transformational process? Everything.
Feel the cold Earth beneath you with the palms of your bare hands, get down on your knees and feel it. Embrace the Earth as much as you like and are able to, and open up as much as you can to receive the Earth’s embrace back. In my experience this is Zen. A great paradox. The safest of feelings, protected but not claustrophobic in any way, life giving, life affirming, but at the same time; the most powerful beating of the heart is induced, because it cannot be contained- a beautiful, living, huge (hearted) Bodhisattva’s presence is felt.
There is nothing like becoming One with the Earth, by actually (for a few minutes at least) rooted your body, mind and heart into that very Earth.
And besides that, isn’t the smell of soil just exquisite? The perfume of life.