The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step

Pain

Practicing with Strong Emotions

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When you touch a hot stove, as soon as you become aware of the pain, you immediately pull your hand away. You don’t let it rest on the burner in order to explore the pain. In the same way, we stay present with strong emotion only very briefly at first. The instruction is: short moments again and again. Rather than trying to endure prolonged exposure to intense feeling, we touch in for only two or three seconds, then pause and breathe gently before touching in again. Or we might simply stay with the troubling feeling for five or six minutes and then go on with our day, more in touch with our emotions and, therefore, less likely to be dragged around by them.

– Pema Chödron

from the book “Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change”

Just Dharma Quotes


Becoming unstuck

We hear a lot about the pain of samsara, and we also hear about liberation. But we don’t hear much about how painful it is to go from being completely stuck to becoming unstuck. The process of becoming unstuck requires tremendous bravery, because basically we are completely changing our way of perceiving reality, like changing our DNA. We are undoing a pattern that is not just our pattern. It’s the human pattern.

– Pema Chödron

from the book “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times”

With thanks to Just Dharma Quotes


Guidance; Corona #26 ~ by Shodo Harada Roshi

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Dear All,

Some say that there may be a vaccine next year and that only in the spring of 2022 the pandemic will have settled. If the restrictions are taken off too soon, there may be new cases appearing. Some people who are infected may have no symptoms while they could infect others. We do need to reflect upon our wisdom, if we were to get sick, how we can deal with this situation in the best possible way.

What this means for us in our training is that we do need to have patience. It is not about yesterday and today only, but we need to continue our efforts. We need to see how we actually can live within challenging situations. We receive the wisdom of Vimalakirti.

Vimalakirti says, “because society is sick, that is why I get sick. We need to have a huge mind and not only see our own life.” Vimalakirti taught us how we can greet and support someone who is sick. Now how about if we ourselves get sick? This is what Vimalakirti is teaching us now.

Monjusri visits Vimalakirti, yet both encounter each other with a bright mind, that it is hard to know, who is the sick person. When we get sick, we easily get depressed, we cannot go outside and depend on others’ support. We feel this as a heavy burden. Yet Vimalakirti does not even look as if he is sick. His state of mind is bright and clear, and the person visiting him does not feel any pressure put on him.

Monjusri asks him: “You are sick yet you do not look sick. How are you managing?” Vimalakirti answers: “If sickness catches us and we fall into sickness, that becomes a heavyweight for us. Of course, I am actually sick. I have symptoms of sickness. Yet what truly makes us sick in mind are those attachments, memories, grudges which we carry around from the past. And because of these arising, that is why we feel the pressure. It is because of those past unclarities, that we feel heaviness.”

These are not extraneous thoughts, yet they do colour our experience of the moment. We cannot get stopped by them. Our physical body which we have received from our parents may get sick, and since we identify with this body, that is why we create our own heaviness. We, of course, may get sick, yet it is not our body alone that feels the sickness, it is mainly our mind that feels the sickness.

Ikkyu Zenji said in his death poem:
“The body that I have borrowed, today I do return it.”

Because we only see the physical body, we are not aware of the huge mind, which uses this body. Of course, we do not want to get sick, yet going through the experience of sickness, we need to bring forth wisdom which helps us rise above this physical experience. We cannot stay stuck in our body only, this would be a big mistake.
It is important that we do not feel stuck in our sick body, or else we create an even greater sickness than our physical one. This is what we need to awaken to. We may feel bad, have pain, have difficulty breathing, have no appetite, or sense of smell, yet we cannot let our mind get drowned within this experience.
Over 100 years ago in Japan, the poet Masaoka Shiki lived, he practiced zazen from a young age. He said that Zen was about being prepared to die anytime, yet later in his life, he said that he realized when he was sick, when he did not know how long he had to live, he said that Zen is not about being prepared to die anytime but Zen is about receiving this life energy anew each moment, receiving the energy to live.

There is a flower that blossoms in June in yellow colours, this flower must have been all around, in this season he was ready to face his last moment of being sick with tuberculosis. The pain must have been huge, while the students gathered around only wished to give their teacher some relief. In this uncertain situation, he gave the first two lines of the poem, then again was struggling to get some air, the students had tears running down their cheeks. They wanted to take the pain onto themselves. They quietly sat by his bedside, waiting, when Masaoka Shiki gave the last line of the poem: Is this the Buddha? Masaoka clearly looked at his own sickness, and when the end neared he called his students and gave this poem: The Hejima flower is blooming, mucus is filling up my throat, is this the Buddha?

Someone who has died is said to become a buddha yet also someone who is awakened is called a buddha. Masaoka gave this poem, his breathing must have been difficult, when this mucus fills his throat, that is the last moment. He speaks about himself as if he is watching himself from high above. It is about himself, yet his state of mind is quiet and filled with wisdom.

That is what Vimalakirti is saying, that we cannot stay stuck in our body, that we cannot drown in our suffering, if we down then we are at the end. That is not how it should be. From a high level, we can reflect upon our state of mind, we can review our state of mind. It is the mind that uses this body, the mind is not stuck in this body. It does need to depart from this body at one point, yet we can awaken to our true nature and share this experience with many.

I may be suffering but there are others who suffer even more. If there is a chance, I would like to use my life to help others, to support others. That is what we need to see as important in our life, Vimalakirti is teaching us.
(calligraphy by Shodo Harada Roshi: The Mysterious Not Two)

Hidden Valley Zen Center, Yuukoku-ji to American Zen

Suffering and familiar pain

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Tao & Zen


The only way you can endure your pain…

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Just Dharma Quotes


Pain and pleasure

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Tashi Nyima

May 21, 2017

unnamed

Pleasure is insubstantial.

The cessation of pleasure is pain.

Pain is insubstantial.

The cessation of pain is pleasure.

—Ippen Shonin