mid winter musings – the journey is the destination
“Could you please pass the mustard? My sandwich, my lunch would not be complete without it. Thanks.
“Where were we? Oh, yes, today’s essay.”
Here we see winter blossoms in San Jose, California.
The moment. The present moment. The satori experience. Interpretation-free experience. The mind goes silent and one becomes the experience. The subject-object dichotomy is transcended.
Direct experience. No thinking, no watching as a mere witness to life. Immediate experience.
We are overwhelmed by external stimuli these days. (Not me. I do not watch much TV at all. As well, I consciously choose not to have a cell phone – imagine that. I shun a lot of modern gadgetry.) Our brains and nervous systems are severely taxed by all this. So many people seem to be always in a hurry, rushing around like rats in a maze. Too much caffeine for them? I wonder why these individuals have to drive 10 or more miles per hour over the posted speed limit on the highway. Are they in urgent or desperate need to get to a toilet, or do they “need” to get home quickly so as to sit down on the sofa and switch on the TV for some really uplifting and worthwhile program?
If your boss at work is demanding and gives you many tasks that are all so very urgent and time critical for you to do – besides pointing out that if all these tasks were so critical the company would be paying you a lot more for your services! – say to her or him “I can only do one thing at a time. Now, which task do you want me to do first?” (We allow bosses to get away with far too much in the workplace. So much needless stress.)
There is another way to live your life. In fact, there are many other ways to live your life, if you choose to.
On Monday, while walking late in the morning on a sunny winter’s day, I suddenly broke into song. From the words of Kashmir, by Led Zeppelin, I sang “let the sun beat down upon my face . . . “. I really did not care that others passing me may have thought me mad, or perhaps even dangerous. (Being outside the herd, not following the crowd – perhaps such individuals are dangerous.) As well, I will sometimes stop to gaze for a moment or two at the bare branches of trees against a winter’s sky (stormy, or cloudless and blue). There is a stark, crisp beauty to the winter if you take the time to see it. Drivers whizzing by on the street may wonder why a man is standing on the sidewalk and simply looking at the trees and/or the desert hills in the distance. They may never have done such things. A sense of wonder is foreign to them.
In zen practice, there is zazen. This simply means sitting meditation. One practices this to achieve enlightenment. But, according to some zen masters, zazen is enlightenment itself. This is much like saying that the journey is the destination. You do not have to travel far and wide, or practice meditation for many lifetimes, to achieve enlightenment. It is already there to be had, to be experienced and embraced, but not grasped at, inside of you. It can come very suddenly, very abruptly, and in unexpected ways. Satori.
If it takes thousands of lifetimes to achieve enlightenment, are you really interested in pursuing it? If you change your rigid mental habits, avoid the terribly distracting external stimuli, be open and flexible to the subtleties around you and inside you, you can make some progress. Simply sit or walk (or dance) and practice the art of forgetting. Give your mind a rest for a short time each day. (You do not have to adopt an ascetic life to make progress!)
Perhaps pursuing enlightenment is, in a sense, like interacting with the opposite sex. Stick with me. While single (ancient history), I encountered a few women who would play hard to get or did not want to go out with me. That proved disappointing to me for a short time. The period of disappointment was brief as once it was clear that Miss so-and-so did not want to play ball, it opened my eyes to other enticing and charming women around me that I had been blind to before. (Unexpected turns of events, a changed perspective can help one to make progress, or even hint at enlightenment.) Of course, once I met the love of my life, all the pursuit, the quest was at an end. She was willing to go out and did not play games about it. She is my queen. However, you are not really risking emotional hurt or disappointment by working a little at enlightenment. Let it come to you. It may do just that if you are open to it.
Laugh, and try living at a little slower, less hurried pace. Listen, and you will hear the birds singing in the morning. Perhaps none of your acquaintances will, as they may be too distracted to notice, too much enslaved by their worries, their cares to be fully present and alive in the present moment – right now!
My hope for the future is that man (and woman, too) will evolve to be more loving.