– Shunryu Suzuki
The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.
Every act counts. Every thought and emotion counts too. This is all the path we have. This is where we apply the teachings. This is where we come to understand why we meditate. We are only going to be here for a short while. Even if we live to be 108, our life will be too short for witnessing all its wonders. The dharma is each act, each thought, each word we speak. Are we at least willing to catch ourselves spinning off and to do that without embarrassment? Do we at least aspire to not consider ourselves a problem, but simply a pretty typical human being who could at that moment give him- or herself a break and stop being so predictable?
My experience is that this is how our thoughts begin to slow down. Magically, it seems that there’s a lot more space to breathe, a lot more room to dance, and a lot more happiness.
– Pema Chödron
from the book “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times”
When you are young and vigorous
You never think of old age coming,
But it approaches slow and sure
Like a seed growing underground.
When you are strong and healthy
You never think of sickness coming,
But it descends with sudden force
Like a stroke of lightning.
When involved in worldly things
You never think of death’s approach.
Quick it comes like thunder
Crashing round your head.
Sickness, old age and death
Ever meet each other
As do hands and mouth.
Waiting for his prey in ambush,
Yama is ready for his victim,
When disaster catches him.
Sparrows fly in single file. Like them,
Life, Death and Bardo follow one another.
Never apart from you
Are these three ‘visitors’.
Thus thinking, fear you not
Your sinful deeds?
Like strong arrows in ambush waiting,
Rebirth in Hell, as Hungry Ghost, or Beast
Is (the destiny) waiting to catch you.
If once into their traps you fall,
Hard will you find it to escape.
Do you not fear the miseries
You experienced in the past?
Surely you will feel much pain
If misfortunes attack you?
The woes of life succeed one another
Like the sea’s incessant waves
One has barely passed, before
The next one takes its place.
Until you are liberated, pain
and pleasure come and go at random
Like passers-by encountered in the street.
Pleasures are precarious,
Like bathing in the sun;
Transient, too, as snowstorms
Which come without warning.
Remembering these things,
Why not practice the Dharma?
from the book “The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa, Vol. 2”
Life on the practical level does not contain any subtle philosophy or subtle mystical experience. It just is. If we are able to see that isness, so to speak, then there is a sense of realization. We experience sudden enlightenment. Without a sense of hopelessness, there is no way to give birth to sudden enlightenment. Only giving up our projects brings about the ultimate, definite, positive state of being, which is the realization that we are already enlightened beings here and now.
– Chögyam Trungpa
from the book “Crazy Wisdom”
The only way is to enjoy your life. Even though you are practicing zazen, counting your breath like a snail, you can enjoy your life, maybe much better than making a trip to the moon. That is why we practice zazen. The kind of life you have is not so important. The most important thing is to be able to enjoy your life without being fooled by things.– Shunryu Suzuki