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Health

Guidance #18 at the time of the pandemic, by Shodo Harada Roshi

 

Guidance; Corona #18 ~ by Shodo Harada Roshi

April 26, 2020

Dear All,
Are you deepening without stopping your efforts?
— Most people have been living in restricted circumstances and since the financial situation of many is effected as well, thus anxiety grows.
When zazen is being taught, we learn how to breathe with our abdomen. When we inhale, our belly moves forward, and when we exhale, it becomes flat. When we inhale, the diaphragm moves down, thus our belly becomes rounded, while when we exhale, the diaphragm moves up and the belly becomes flat.

We walk with our arms moving along on the side of our body. In this way, we can keep balance while walking. If we are breathing from our tanden, this balance is being kept naturally. A baby is doing tanden breathing. When a baby is hungry and cries, this voice is huge, coming forth from the tanden. Even when a baby is smiling, it is doing so with its whole being, yet using its inhalation, while it is using the exhalation when crying.

A baby does not need to be taught how to breathe, it does so naturally. Not while thinking about it but by using its whole body. Since birth, we all are doing this tanden breathing.
In Asian medicine, it is looked upon as if we are two beings: The upper body with the head receiving information from the outside which has become central in our modern world. All sense perceptions, as well as the ability to think, are all in our heads. The ability to connect to the outside. The hands as well reach out to the outside.

Then we have the lower body, that being which is centered in our lower abdomen, in our tanden. It has the feet standing on the ground, while the tanden is the center of our life energy.

We are made up of these two beings, these two aspects. Yet we have placed more importance in gathering information from the outside. Our energy has risen up in our head and our belly has fallen into our unconsciousness. Usually, we are able to keep balance somehow but when there are times like these, when we feel a lot of pressure, we can hardly stay balanced and become even more anxious.

Since birth, we have not only gathered a lot of data, but we also have unresolved feelings of anger, greed, hate, jealousy, sadness – they are always with us. While we have a warm and open heart, it simply does not function. This is today´s sickness, the energy being too high and not coming down into our belly.

We can see clearly what is most important for us nowadays: To actually feel that taught full energy in our belly which is supporting us during difficult times. Please lengthen your exhalation and right there your inner balance is strengthened. Our essence again becomes deep and stable. It is the breathing which we did when we were small, now we simply need to return to our base. Gathering our energy in the tanden. When we carry something heavy, we can feel our tanden, when we sit and move as well. During these challenging times, we need to make even more efforts to settle within.

Hidden Valley Zen Center, Yuukoku-ji to American Zen

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Health is the greatest gift, a liberated mind the greatest bliss

buddha quotes on death