Since moving to the country a year and a half ago, I’ve been engaged and busy with so many exciting new things that I put teaching my meditation classes and workshops on the shelf as I adjusted to my new lifestyle. On Monday this week I led my first meditation workshop up here in Hudson. It was wonderful for me – and I think also for the students.
Not only did this experience have me notice how much I’ve been missing it, but also how much I get from doing it. It also inspired me back to pen and paper to complete the book I had been working on – which also ended up on a shelf earlier this year as I delved into drawing and painting. I have many great new ideas for my next book, which will include many of the teachings I keep going back to in my classes.
Here are but a few of my favorite tidbits from some spiritual teachers; words that remind me what is most important in my precious life. Lessons that I always pass on to others and that inspire me anew every time.
Someone once asked the Buddha skeptically, “What have you gained through meditation?”
The Buddha replied, “Nothing at all.”
“Then, Blessed One, what good is it?”
“Let me tell you what I lost through meditation; sickness, anger, depression, insecurity, the burden of old age, the fear of death. That is the good of meditation, which leads to nirvana.”
The Dhammapada – translated for the modern reader by Eknath Easwaran
Nothing can ever really be learned until it works through the nerves and muscles.
The purpose of practice is no purpose. If we have a purpose then we have problems.
Just be ordinary. Don’t try to be special.
Zen Master Rinzai
The teaching of the Buddha is based on direct insight into the nature of existence and is a radical critique of wishful thinking and the myriad tactics of escapism.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?
The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment,
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.
Tao te Ching – A New English Version, by Stephen Mitchell
Bowing is a very serious practice. You should be prepared to bow, even in your last moment. Even though it is impossible to get rid of our self-centered desires, we have to do it. Our true nature want us to.
Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
The Master said to the monks, “You who practice Zen samadhi first of all must prepare a thick cushion and sit on it in full lotus posture. Then loosen your robe and belt. Erect your spine and let your body become well settled. Then you must begin susokukan (breath-counting concentration). Among innumerable ways to enter samadhi, breath counting is the best. Fill your tanden (lower abdomen) with ki (life energy). Then directly engage your koan. Your must cut off your life at its very root. If you do this for months and years with ceaseless effort, even if you should miss striking the ground, you cannot miss kensho. Make the utmost endeavor! Make the utmost endeavor!”
Hakuin Ekaku Zenji