Saturday, September 4, 2010


Life as it is, here and now, is as good as it gets.  When something catches my attention and I want to turn toward it, I also turn away from the rest of my life.  I have to be careful with my attention!  (Zen contains a corollary message.)  When I follow the necessity of transient circumstances, my life is best, and it flows more smoothly.  By allowing myself to be receptive to the changing needs of life I become more accepting, appreciative, and compassionate.  And my thoughts and actions reflect this attitude. 

It used to be that we could only satisfy our basic needs; an ascetic lifestyle was the norm for our early ancestors.  Then, when culture and technology rapidly changed our lifestyle, we learned how to satisfy almost any need we could imagine, faster than ever before.  But we lack the native wisdom to know which desires should be satisfied and which should not, which impulses to act on and which to restrain.  This wasn't a problem before, we simply couldn't satisfy most of our creative desires, so the temptation was much less.  But now, in our instant gratification society, being careful with where we place our attention is more difficult than ever.  Perhaps the contemplative traditions like Buddhism arose to remind us that it is now up to us to impose on ourselves the control that the environment can no longer exercise over us.

The last few days I knew that my circumstances necessitated that I attend to various work and chores, but I became infected with a desire to watch episodes of the television series "Firefly." It was easier to do this than my work, so I easily caved and watched them.  While enjoyable, my work still needed to be done, only now I had even less time to do it in. 

"To study Buddhism is to study the self.  To study the self is to forget the self.  To forget the self is to become enlightened by all things."
"When other sects speak well of Zen, the first thing that they praise is its poverty."
"If he cannot stop the mind that seeks after fame and profit, he will spend his life without finding peace."
- Dogen

"My sermons are criticized by certain audiences. They say that my sermons are hollow, not holy. I agree with them because I myself am not holy. The Buddha's teaching guides people to the place where there is nothing special... People often misunderstand faith as kind of ecstasy of intoxication... True faith is sobering up from such intoxication."
- Kodo Sawaki

"No thought, no reflection, no analysis, no cultivation, no intention; let it settle itself."
- Tilopa

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