The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Friday, September 11, 2009

To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.

--Mary Oliver

As a young student of Buddhism, the snippets of  understanding and perception I was able to master were co-opted by the youthful rants of the ego self.  That ego self was so feisty and fierce, not even common sense made much of a dent!  Of course, most of us remember those days of our teens and 20s with great relish, and plenty of equanimity for the ego self's lusts and we settle a little deeper into our middle years, we recognize that those desires don't necessarily need to be crushed or subverted...why would we even want to try to rid our selves of this essence?!?  
Our Buddhist practice has room for all that is offer up, the good, the bad, the ugly.
In fact, we find that if we remain present and balanced, our lust for life never vanishes, it simply becomes more harmonious and better integrated with our true self.   
Indeed, our wholeness prompts a new way of being in the world, one where perhaps we are living authentically for the first time, finding the source of our energy in calm abiding.  In being aware.
I have to admit, as a young person I was seduced by the need to be spontaneous and ever changeable, a sprite in the world of "grups"--my motivation had as much to do with the times in which I was growing up (60s & 70s), as my natural tendency to be an independent soul.  And when I came across a quote such as Mary Oliver's, my first reaction was to just think, oh man, how boring!  Not paying attention is where all the fun and spontaneity is!  
So, in other words, I didn't comprehend what it means to pay attention, to be mindful.
But I was sitting meditation then, and something must have made a dent on the unconscious, because I
continued off and on, until I established a regular sitting practice.  This made all the difference in urging me forward into my Priest Studies and continues to sustain small places of quiet, of silence, of open space.
It's funny how our thinking around something as simple as Oliver's quote can change.  We simply need to have the courage to stand out of our own way.

Namu Amida Butsu!


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