286. In Zen we hear a lot about living in the moment. But what exactly does this mean? No doubt it has something to do with focusing on doing whatever is to be done here and now. Yet every moment opens onto an unknown next moment. And to do properly the task of the present we need to see how it relates to what is to come. The present moment is both closed and open.
Wednesday, 30 January 2019
285. The poet bids his soul 'be still, and wait without hope'. In zazen this is sometimes the best we can do. Overwhelmed by our own 'not knowing', and a sense of utter helplessness, we just sit. Hopeless, helpless, we yet continue to trust that 'all will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well'.
Tuesday, 29 January 2019
Monday, 28 January 2019
Tuesday, 22 January 2019
Monday, 21 January 2019
Saturday, 19 January 2019
280. Breathing in, I count one, breathing out, I count two, and so on up to ten. Then I come back to one and repeat the process. The in-breath is on an odd number, the out-breath on an even number. Using odd and even numbers like this is an aid to developing concentration and so learning to discipline one's thoughts. Many people starting out in meditation express surprise at finding out how unruly is their mind. Counting the breath can help quieten the mind.
Friday, 18 January 2019
279. The practice of counting the breath is usually assigned to beginners in meditation. It would be a mistake, however, to think that this 'beginner's practice' is only for beginners. Counting the breath is a powerful practice. Even longterm practitioners can take it up, particularly in times of great stress. Should you find yourself having to deal with a smoldering anger or a deep seated resentment, don't be too proud to just sit and count your breath.
Thursday, 17 January 2019
278. Master Mumon Ekai insists that in order to enter upon the Way of Zen we must cut off the way of thinking. This must be balanced, however, by the recognition that 'thought after thought arises in the heart-mind, thought after thought is not separate from heart-mind'.
Thursday, 10 January 2019
Friday, 4 January 2019
276. It is said that Fa Yen cried out to Ti Tsang, saying, 'O Master, I am now in a situation in which language is reduced to silence'. How many of us can relate to Fa Yen's predicament? If so we might call to mind some words of the philosopher Wittgenstein, namely, 'whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must be silent'.