Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Zen Koan, "What is this?"

There are many seemingly simple spiritual practices that when engaged often bring to a person some surprising and purely deep results. While many may interpret "simple" to mean naive or stupid, these are actually that word's lesser implications.
A check with your dictionary will likely reveal that its first definition is actually "free from guile; innocent; free from vanity, modest; singular, unified without clauses."

So from this one, simple practice,
ask the question, "what is this?" Ask yourself often and sit quietly, listening for the answer, which will come if you do.
You may find this difficult to do because many times in fact, we want to run away from ourselves and our reasons. Why? For lots of reasons or no clear reason at all, like a habit. And like Nasrudin looking for his key the dark, the familiar seems so much better than anything else. That is until we discover what else there is.

What is it that you think; what are your habits? What is it that you feel? Can you label your thoughts, your feelings? Will you sit quietly long enough for them to present themselves? For many, labeling a thought or feeling is surprisingly a challenge. Will you sit for the days, weeks, months or the years that it may take?
Asking what is this is a first step in the "willingness to just be," as Zen teacher Eric Bayada describes in his book, Being Zen.

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