On Wisdom, Compassion, and Mindfulness

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I don’t describe myself using any religious term like Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Taoist, Gnostic, etc.  I am simply me, and I see the world through my own eyes and filter the world around me through my own senses using my personal, internal computing system in all its limitations.

Not aligning to a particular religious belief allows me unfettered consideration of how various religions tend to view the world and try to make sense of people’s lives. I find that some aspects of various religions seem to have a ring of TRUTH to them, but often their stringent rules and doctrines of required adherence for qualified “believers” of that particular religion, will quickly turn me off to it.

So I can stand here on the outskirts of all religions and simply admire what I like about certain ones. In truth I do like Buddhism for its psychological approach to the subject matter of why we are here and how we should be conducting our lives in non-judgmental full awareness of every moment.

And as I understand it standing on the outside, there are different forms of Buddhism, one of which is the Zen approach, which is appealing to me in many ways because its focus is on helping people to see life as it simply is and live your life from the purest form of moment-by-moment awareness.medalionfor peacereligions.jpg

I see the value in this approach to life just as I see value in certain aspects of other religions. What this condensed article is describing is pertinent to the human aspirations I most admire: Wisdom, Compassion and Mindfulness. And according to this author, that is the point of Zen.

But I also know that Zen is considered a fathomless concept, and none knew it better than D. T. Suzuki. So if anyone is truly interested in studying more about Zen, he would be a good starting point.

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The quotes listed here are from the blog article: The Way of Zen – Wisdom, Compassion & Mindfulness  .    Posted on October 24, 2014 by Christopher Chase (https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/the-way-of-zen-wisdom-compassion-mindfulness/?fbclid=IwAR1baYMA9UAfRnPJliTnIjB7QWR4GUQAegOKV126aTsQV_vwmLMV1pXMY5g)

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“Much has been written about Zen, but there are 3 essentials that are especially important. These insights and practices flow from the Buddha’s teachings yet can be applied by people of all religious faiths.

The first is the awakening of wisdom, what Buddha called right view. It’s coming to see the impermanence and empty “self” nature of all that exists. Seeing through the illusions of compartmentalized thinking to a more holistic understanding of how every atom, river, planet, galaxy and living being in our Universe arise together and flow as one interdependent ever-changing whole. …

The second is ethical conduct and compassion, valuing love and life more than material things, power or wealth. Supporting others, seeking to reduce violence and suffering, cultivating greater kindness and equality in society. Prioritizing peace, love and compassion is at the core of what many wise beings have shared with the world down through history. …

Finally, Zen teaches mindfulness of the present moment, observing what is happening without attachment or aversion. Being aware of what we are doing right here, right now, where ever we are. The practice of seated meditation is meant to assist with efforts to concentrate and calm the mind, but it is moment-to-moment mindfulness in all situations that Buddha most strongly emphasized. …

These three essentials taught by the Buddha: wisdom, compassion and mindfulness—are linked together synergistically and interdependently. When we successfully prioritize all three each serves to strengthen the development of the others. Over time (and with practice) we become more compassionate, wise, mindful, loving, joyful and at peace.    –Christopher Chase”

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2019 – Year of Beginnings

For this third day of January 2019, my post will be a mix of influences I’ve witnessed since January first.

Lee-Harrispicimage.jpgIt started with an energy update from Lee Harris on “2019 – Year of Beginnings” which I think is worth hearing, so I’ll list it here if anyone is interested:  https://www.leeharrisenergy.com/p/january-2019-energy-update

The gist of it from my notes was that this is the year of elevation (out of the mire of contentiousness and social dishevel).  2012 – 2019 was a 7-year cycle of clearing us energetically.  2019 – 2026 is a cycle of elevation – a brand new beginning bringing with it a lot of momentum and forward movement.  He says to create your personal change powerfully and purposefully. Live life more passionately.  Expect January to be more of the bubbling to the surface of major issues, but February is the beginning of the change—a vocal ‘stand up and speak your truth’ month. This is the time right now to be very clear on exactly what you DO want in your life, as that is what you will call to you now.  Speak your truth and stand up for what is right for all.

So then shortly after seeing the Lee Harris video, someone put through this gorgeous 49301924_2441835785844099_6951581753156829184_n.jpgsnowflake on Facebook that I found mesmerizing along with a quote from Einstein, one of my personal heroes.

“The basic laws of the universe are simple, but because our senses are limited, we can’t grasp them. There is a pattern in creation. If we look at this tree outside whose roots search beneath the pavement for water, or a flower which sends its sweet smell to the pollinating bees, or even our own selves and the inner forces that drive us to act, we can see that we all dance to a mysterious tune..”   Albert Einstein
snowflake photo by Kenneth Libbrecht

Quote source: How Einstein Saw the World
https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/how-einstein-saw-the-world/

 

Then the next day “Tao and Zen” on Facebook added another D. T. Suzuki quote that I thought really explains how you incorporate that Zen  perspective into everything you do:

49511253_2446887465338931_7342677059904208896_n.jpg“The idea of Zen is to catch life as it flows. There is nothing extraordinary or mysterious about Zen. I raise my hand; I take a book from the other side of the desk; I hear the boys playing ball outside my window; I see the clouds blown away beyond the neighboring wood — in all these I am practicing Zen, I am living Zen. No wordy discussion is necessary, nor any explanation… When the sun rises the whole world dances with joy and everybody’s heart is filled with bliss. If Zen is at all conceivable, it must be taken hold of here.”   D.T. Suzuki

Zen & the Art of Living Deeply
https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/zen-the-art-of-living-deeply/

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In summary, to me as we start this new year together, I choose to view it as Lee Harris does—that it is a year of beginnings, so let’s stand up and speak our truth and choose our way forward with clear intentions and a strong sense of purpose.

Then as Einstein said, let’s recognize our interconnectedness and the Divine Plan behind our social, cultural, and even personal interactions occurring on this one living planet that we all share.

And lastly, as D.T. Suzuki said, “Be grateful for everything. Observe without judgment. Consume less, create more. Let go of fears and desires. Listen to understand not to respond. Be patient and generous. Love deeply.  Live simply.”

Here on this third day of January 2019, I think those are good personal goals to adopt.

Works for me.

Shoshin – The Beginner’s Mind

Sounds a bit paradoxical, but I can easily say that despite lessIknow45.pnghow much I’ve often thought that I knew throughout my life, or how hard-won that advanced knowledge came into being for me, the older I get the better I appreciate how little I actually DO know.

In truth it seems that with every passing day I feel this almost humorous certainty growing stronger within me: a certainty-of-my-own-ignorance—that jolting realization that what you once believed to be truth, actually wasn’t, and you may never know the REAL truth no matter how old or knowledgeable you become because that TRUTH exists in a realm that is incomprehensible to your present existence.

This body shock of awakening to our own innate ignorance can be scathingly honest and quite humbling.

It certainly was to my ego.

But to those who study Zen, this isn’t some new concept—some might simply call it ‘cultivating the Beginner’s Mind.’

What is Beginner’s Mind?  Here’s a good explanation first from Wikipedia, then from a Zen master himself.

Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning ‘beginner’s mind.’ It refers to having shozinbeginnersmind.pngan attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese martial arts.”

Text source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin

Master Shunryu Suzuki can explain it far better than I can:

“People say that practicing Zen is difficult, but there is a misunderstanding as to why. It is not difficult because it is hard to sit in the cross‑legged position, or to attain enlightenment. It is difficult because it is hard to keep our mind pure and our practice pure in its fundamental sense.

In Japan we have the phrase shoshin, which means ‘beginner’s mind.’ The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner’s mind…

For Zen students the most important thing is not to be dualistic. Our ‘original mind’ includes everything within itself. It is always rich and sufficient within itself. You should not lose your self‑sufficient state of mind.

This does not mean a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.

The most difficult thing is always to keep your beginner’s mind. There is no need to have a deep understanding of Zen. Even though you read much Zen literature, you must read each sentence with a fresh mind.

You should not say, ‘I know what Zen is,’ or ‘I have attained enlightenment.’ This is shoshinmaster.jpgalso the real secret of the arts: always be a beginner.

Be very, very careful about this point. If you start to practice zazen, you will begin to appreciate your beginner’s mind. It is the secret of Zen practice.”

Shunryu Suzuki
from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

 

So I acknowledge that here I sit in my own ignorance while trying to make sense of our life existence.

These are the very things I often write about: What is reality?—What is consciousness?—What are we doing here? Why are we here? Who benefits and how do they benefit from our incarnating here during this time period or ANY time period?

All those unanswerable questions come down to the battle in our minds over the relevance between our DOING and our BEING.

Here is a basic truth as I presently know it:  I AM.  I EXIST.  I EXPERIENCE.  I OBSERVE.

And I try like the dickens NOT to judge the value of what I am observing because to do so implies a comparative knowledgebase that I do not have—at least not from my humble human perspective.

the-older-i-get-the-less-i-know-by-that-i-mean-the-less-i-am-sure-of-i-view-p-403x403-nkb3nfSo each day I open my eyes and wonder what this day will bring to me. I wonder what new realization will occur to my sensing abilities. I wonder what type of sense I can make of whatever is happening to me and around me, but knowing full well that ‘making sense’ is a judgment in itself.

However, I also know that only through shoshinbeginner’s mind—can I simply observe all and note those observances without judgment or expectation—knowing I must simply allow all occurrences (and not labeling them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’) to flow along with the river of life into the great sea of consciousness that connects us all and patiently awaits our return.

This I also know:  Beginner’s Mind is not easily achieved nor sustained for long unless you willingly intend it.