A Zen Moment ~You don’t need to be happy every minute of the day ~ post by Martie Georgia

 

“Junkies are happy when they’re high,” I said quietly, “But they don’t need to be happy. They need to be free.” ~ Harry Dresden
‘How often have I encountered students and therapy clients who act as if acceptance means putting a smilie face on everything? They imagine acceptance is supposed to feel good, that it means feeling good about what ever happens. That is simply impossible.  When we try it, we just end up denying or repressing all our actual, complicated, ambivalent feelings until they have built up to the point where they can no longer be ignored. Then we are faced with a crisis. Not only do we have to face the problem itself, but our cherished self-image as an accepting person, as a “good” Buddhist, starts to crumble.’
‘Ending The Pursuit Of Happiness’ by Barry Magid

How many times in your Buddhist studies have you heard, “May you be happy ” or countless variations.  How many of us have struggled attempting to be happy all the time like the the literature and some teachers seem to suggest?

Well relax. You don’t need to be happy every minute of the day.  As stated in the quote above, you need to be free; then happiness will pass through your life freely along with sorrow, pain, anger and all the complex emotions that make up being human. To cling to happiness is as much an error as clinging to unhappiness.  Neither has any permanence.  They come and go.

Using a well known story to illustrate the point.: A husband asked a Zen master to intercede on his behalf with his wife. She had a very uncharitable nature.  The Zen master went before her and put his  fist under her nose and said “If your hand was always like this what would you call it?” “Deformed.”, she said  He then held his hand wide open and again asked the same question. She answered the same, “Deformed” He then said, “If you know that much you are a good wife” and walked away.

A naturally functioning hand opens and closes. Remains flexible. Neither locked into one  extreme or the other, the middle path as Buddha suggests. As in everything else, the middle is fluid and moves otherwise it too would be considered ‘deformed’. Just as a hand at rest is neither clenched or wide spread so too is our natural state. We are not one thing or another.

It may be that there is a tendency in the teaching of Buddhism to assume that we are all so enmeshed in the First Noble Truth of suffering that we need to be firmly directed to a happier place. This is not without merit as long as we eventually realize that there is no escape from suffering. Life is suffering. We just learn, eventually,  not to cling to it just as we learn not to cling to happiness.

Happiness is a byproduct of not clinging. It is not a goal. It cannot be forced by an act of will. Clinging less allows more space in our lives for happiness to enter naturally.

Martie Georgia

 

 

Book Review: 365 Nirvana Here and Now by Josh Baran

A little known secret: I enjoy quotes especially ones that take you deep within. Yes, I know, what a surprise! 🙂 It seems I am not the only one. most of my twitter contacts enjoy quotes also. Maybe like attracts like? Hmm. 365 Nirvana by Josh Baran

365 Nirvana Here and Now: Living Every Moment In Enlightenment, edited and with commentary by Josh Baran is one of those quote books that you can let the book fall open and you have your ‘gem’ for the day or if you are me, for the week. (Barnes & Noble/Amazon do not have this book in stock at this moment…your local well-loved book store might though!)

Given the title, you would think 365 Nirvana is entirely comprised of Buddhist quotes, yet it is not so…. Examples: “With ‘I’ eliminated…this is Nirvana here and now. ~ The Buddha,  ‘It is right in your face. This moment, the whole thing is handed to you. ~ Yuanwu,  ‘You search for God in heaven and earth, but you don’t know the one who is right before your eyes, because you don’t know how to search into this very moment. ~ Jesus.’

And this from the Introduction by Josh Baran…’This treasury of insights, a chorus of the present moment sung by ancient and modern voices that span time, distance, religion, tradition, and culture – is an invitation’ … I could not have said or written it better. This little book has become a constant source of reflective material that sits on my nightstand within easy reach.

So tonight…I let 365 Nirvana ‘pick’ the quote ending this post…see where it takes you.

Just One Time

Where you are going

and the place you stay

come to the same thing.

What you long for

and what you’ve left behind

are as useless as your name.

Just one time, walk out

into the field and look

at the towering oak —

an acorn still beating at its heart.   Peter Levitt

come

The Flower Sermon ~ Zen Moment by Martie Georgia

In this article I will attempt to share with you the flavour of Zen using quotes and personal observations. First the beginning.

The Flower Sermon  ~  The origins of Zen Buddhism are ascribed to the Flower Sermon, the earliest source for which comes from the 14th century.

It is said that Gautama Buddha gathered his disciples one day for a Dharma talk. When they gathered together, the Buddha was completely silent and some speculated that perhaps the Buddha was tired or ill. The Buddha silently held up and twirled a flower and twinkled his eyes; several of his disciples tried to interpret what this meant, though none of them were correct. One of the Buddha’s disciples, Mahākāśyapa, silently gazed at the flower and broke into a broad smile. The Buddha then acknowledged Mahākāśyapa’s insight by saying the following:

” I possess the true Dharma eye, the marvelous mind of Nirvāṇa, the true form of the formless, the subtle Dharma gate that does not rest on words or letters but is a special transmission outside of the scriptures. This I entrust to Mahākāśyapa.”

Zen asks questions beyond the scope of intellectual understanding and demands answers in kind.  It  shakes people loose from their habitual thought patterns.  When you are told that all but the bull’s tail can pass through the eye of a needle, it will not help you to reach for a tape measure.

“By becoming attached to names and forms, not realizing that they have no more basis than the activities of the mind itself, error arises and the way to emancipation is blocked.”—Buddha

A flower and a smile. The sound of a swept pebble striking a stand of bamboo.  The response to a stubbed toe.  Endless examples of  Dharma asking us questions. Lightning strikes  and thunder answers.  Spontaneous and natural. Beyond conceptual thought in the blink of an eye.

This brief “call and answer” has lead to Zen being called the Lightning School Of Buddhism by some. It can be misleading.  This sudden awakening is almost always proceeded by many years of of very intensive work.  A bucket has to be well used before the bottom will drop out of it.

Zen seeks the Dharma in our ordinary every day existence.”In the Genjokoan (Actualizing the Fundamental Point), Zen Master Dogen writes:
“When one first seeks the dharma, one is far away from its environs. When one has already correctly transmitted the dharma to oneself, one is one’s original self at that moment.”

In other words.  “Be one with the Dharma”, Go further. Be Dharma. We are life- just as it is- in every moment. There is no Dharma separate from us to be one with. We express and perceive Dharma with every breath and action whether we realize it or not. Realize it in this very moment. Just be. Dharma happens. 🙂

Zen is focused on direct experience rather than words, letters, lectures, video’s etc.
We have all heard the  phrase “Do not mistake the pointing finger for the moon”. Let’s examine that phrase in terms of our deepening understanding of the Dharma.

When we first begin we don’t even know what a finger is or how it points or even that it is pointing to something. This is the beginning of our studies. Finding out the basics . Learning how to look and where to look.

We start to see the finger in all it’s variations. Sutras, books, videos, teachers, an endless list. Some people get so involved in the sheer volume and variety of this that they completely forget the true function of the finger.  At some point we have to look away and start looking for the moon.

After many, many thousands of stares at fingers, first, then looking for the moon, we begin to realize that we now have a general idea where the moon is and begin to rely less on the pointing finger. We start to see moonlight directly and begin to follow that back to it’s source.

As our practice deepens we realize that moon light is touching everything equally, dew drops, oceans, us and pointing fingers. We then let go of the finger and pointing all together. Pointers are everywhere.

We finally realize that we are actually the moon itself and the moon light and all it touches. We are interconnected with all things so making a distinction between things becomes meaningless. No thought of fingers or moons.

So to paraphrase, ‘When we begin…No finger- no moon…Finger – moon…Moon light – moon…No finger- no moon.” Full circle. Back where we started. Nothing special and yet…to put it in a less wordy more Zen context: “Unseen, the moonlight, Hidden behind rolling clouds, Nothing left undone.”

Of course the moon has always been there, accessible to us, and we can, at anytime in the process, look directly at the moon depending on our capacity to see. Our willingness to let go and just look.

This extends to all areas of our practice. If you think that you have gained something from sitting, you are mistaken. If you think you have lost something by sitting, you are also in error. Sit to sit, just as it is, just as you are. Perfect 🙂

Just this. Life as it is from moment to moment.  Zen moments.    ~ Martie Georgia

Whatever you can do, I can do….

Three monks sat by a lake, deep in meditation. One stood up and said, “I’ve forgotten my mat.” Stepping on to the waters before him, he walked across to the other side, where their small hut stood. When he returned, the second monk said, “I just remembered I haven’t dried my washed clothes.” He too strode calmly across the water to the other bank and returned in a few minutes the same way.

The third monk watched them intently. Figuring that this was a test of his own skills, he loudly declared, “So you think your abilities are superior to mine! Watch me!” and scurried to the edge of the river bank. No sooner did he put his foot in then he fell into the waist-high water. Unfazed, he waded out and tried again. And again and again, to no avail. After watching this performance in silence, one of his fellow monks asked the other, “D’ you suppose we should tell him where the stepping stones are?”

Don’t let ego and jealousy cloud your common sense!