Life is very busy and also very short. It can fly by very quickly. Many of us are born with some particular drive or aspiration or vision to engage in spiritual inquiry. Some of us embrace what feels like our path and others of us push the nagging questions aside in favor of the necessities of the day. Later, after time has passed, some of us regret not embracing those big questions about life. So what can you do?
Zen and Meditation
In meditation, sometimes we chase after a particular type of “feeling.” The thing is, in life, everything comes and goes, even nice feelings. Meanwhile, while we are chasing after these temporary feelings, we miss the opportunity to really pay attention and learn about life as it is (as opposed to as we want it to be). Stuck in this chasing loop, we miss the chance to develop our prajna–our wisdom. This post is about how to use meditation to gain wisdom about life instead of to chase after a particular temporary feeling.
A Zen student had travelled to India and had become overwhelmed when he gave to beggars there. On the one hand, he had an intention to help in the world. On the other, he wondered if he was incentivizing begging. I did not want to give him “advice,” but instead to offer an approach to decision making that does not depend on the concepts and stories we tell ourselves but that instead arises from our True Self. The approach involves trusting our intuition and then adjusting our actions over and over as we get new information.
I have always loved the Zen approach to Buddhism because, like the gnostic and mystical paths of all the great religions, it is not about studying the words of a teacher but about finding out for yourself. What am I? What is my place in the world? This is a teaching letter I wrote about using meditation to find your true self and life direction.
When we don’t pay attention, we waste money, we waste resources, we waste time, and we waste our lives. When we aren’t mindful of this moment, we waste. Therefore, paying attention and trying not to waste is a simple mindfulness exercise we can do all day. The simple act of being mindful and trying not to waste can both help us have better lives for ourselves and and help the world.
The stories we tell ourselves about the world shape our experience of the world. If you let go of the limiting stories you tell yourself about how you can fix your life and help the world, amazing things will follow.
Many people seek enlightenment or peace or nirvana as the goal of their spiritual practice. But how can there be peace when other people are suffering? I wrote this article about using practice to help understand how to help in the face of institutional racism for the Kwan Um School of Zen newsletter Primary Point. The article’s original […]
There is a question for each of us personally as we move forward in the world but also as our whole society moves forward. What path should we follow? Where should we go? What is our compass point? That existential question has always existed, of course, but with so many dangers to our world the question is […]