I often remind the trainees in the meditation groups that I lead that, in order to be successful with this training, we have to do it on a regular basis. It really is necessary to practice sitting meditation for some amount of time every day, although taking a day off occasionally is not a problem. Besides formal meditation, keeping our attitude of meditation going throughout the day is just as important. What follows is a brief explanation of what I am talking about.
In formal meditation we sit facing a wall with our eyes half open, being mindful of what comes up in our thoughts and emotions and letting it all dissipate. In our daily life we keep this mindfulness going throughout the day by just doing what needs to be done and being aware of what we are doing at the time. For example, when we eat we just eat; when we catch our mind drifting into other things, then we come back to just eating. The same thing goes with our work, watching TV, conversation, and all activities. The purpose of this ongoing, gentle awareness is to help us maintain our focus without distracting ourselves with thoughts of the past or the future. I have heard from many trainees who do this seemingly simple practice that it has really “saved my life” and has helped in many ways. I say this myself about my life.
On the deepest level what is going on here is that we are opening ourselves up to what we all have: the “flow of the Eternal” with its pure, unconditional and nonjudgmental Love, compassion, and stillness. With our meditation and training we can live from this magnificent Place that we all have and let our lives be an expression of this Place. It seems simple in the telling, but it takes constant diligence. I can speak for myself and others: it is worth it.
I would like to go over some particular things that pull us out of this place of Immaculacy. The first is something I see happening a great deal in current events. That is anger. It seems that for many people–including myself–it is much easier to get angrier at this time when the opposites seem ascendant. The truth of the matter is that if we let the anger fester and grow, we go into suffering. However, if instead we call upon our meditation/training and let the anger arise and then dissipate, we live in a state of peace and stillness.
I am aware of how easy it is to get angry at so many things and I have to say my training and meditation has really helped me. Rev. Master Jiyu gives some great teaching on this in her commentary on the Kyojukaimon. Rev. Master says, “The depth of the ocean is still even when there is a great storm upon its surface; thus should we be when there is anger, knowing that nothing whatsoever can touch the Truth.”
The last area I want to go over is something that came up for me years ago, which inspired a series of talks. I call it “opening the JAR of suffering.” This “JAR” is Jealousy, Animosity, and Resentment. When we go with these attitudes we experience a life of suffering. If we let them arise and dissipate with our meditation and training we cannot be controlled by them. These attitudes come from what Rev. Master Jiyu calls “the housebuilder of the house of ego,” and Rev. Master goes on to say that we must “know all his tools, know all his building materials; there is no other way that we can know immaculacy.” When we live in this way we can see the “JAR” as delusion and when we let the flow of the Eternal wash through the “JAR” we can move away from the suffering it causes when we go with it.
In conclusion, I know that this practice takes a good deal of diligence. It is always our choice. We can use all the things that come up in daily life to bring us back to the magnificent Flow we all have, or we can go with suffering and a hardened heart. On paper here the decision looks easy, but in our daily life we know it is not easy. Again, I can say for myself and for many others that this works and practicing it really helps us. It is truly a wonderful way to live!
In late August the temple was very happy to host Rev. Master Basil Singer of Seattle Dharma Refuge for part of his annual renewal time. A friend of Rev. Bennet’s kindly loaned the monks the use of his vacation home on a beautiful Minnesota lake for a couple of days, which was very relaxing.