just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness

Waking Up to ‘This’ Moment

Published on 30/05/11
by randy

The paddle, the board, water and air, body, mind...all as one.

The paddle, the board, water and air, body, mind...all as one.

I recently gave a lesson to a friend who is living in the midst of tremendous change and uncertainty.  This seems to be increasingly common as we face what seems to be accelerating change.  Perhaps it’s our finance, job, health, a weather event or some political agenda that impacts us.  In any case, we feel a sense of ‘un-grounding’.  This loss of stability can grow as we feed thoughts of ‘not enough’ and a sense of disconnection.  The gift in losing a sense of material security is a growing hunger to cultivate spiritual security.  In the throws of life’s pain, can I hold a sense of ‘big hope’?  Can I stand beyond the notion that I’m only my body and the thoughts my mind secretes?  Can I wake to a deeper feeling, one that finds peace though magnanimous interconnectedness?  Katagiri Roshi speaks to this wholehearted living, writing the following:

We can see the functioning of the whole universe in all of our activities—walking, standing, sitting, and sleeping—not just in zazen.  When you act wholeheartedly, your activity becomes very clear, calm, flexible, and magnanimous.  It is boundless, and simultaneously it is you.  So studying the boundlessness of activity is studying the self.  This is called intimacy.

How can you know the meaning of intimacy?  You cannot see it objectively because intimacy is not the result of activity; intimacy blooms right in the midst of activity itself.  If you try to understand intimacy intellectually, as a concept, you never know real intimacy.  Delusion and enlightenment are also concepts, but the perfect, supreme state of enlightenment is completely beyond concepts.  You are already enlightened, but you can never conceptually know what enlightenment is because when you think of it you create a gap between yourself and enlightenment.

For example, when you swim (SUP), if your consciousness picks up one perception of water and a separate perception of swimmer (paddler), this is not real intimacy.  To experience intimacy with the ocean, you have to jump into the ocean and just swim in the whole universe with no thought of subject and object.  Without plunging into the ocean, you can’t swim.  So open your heart and be intimate with the water.  Completely depend on the help of nature.  Then the water takes care of you.  Your body is supported, your body is swimming, and you survive.  You and the ocean are one, and you swim right in the middle of the functioning of the universe.  That is great enlightenment.

Plunging into the ocean is your effort.  The usual idea of effort implies the egoistic aspect of life.  But you should understand swimming (SUP) from two aspects: something created by your effort and something created by nature’s effort.  When you make your effort and jump in, you can see the other aspect because something appears that is beyond your effort.  The universe is helping you; nature is taking care of your human life.  Then swimming (SUP) is called vivid activity.  This swimming is called play– playing with the water, with all sentient beings in the water, and with the five skandhas of your body and mind, before your conscious of them.  Your consciousness cannot pin down what intimacy is because consciousness is very picky, always picking out one thing and looking at it separately.  So consciousness never knows the true sense of action.  But we can know in other ways.  You can intuitively know something simultaneously with action.  That is our practice.”

Each Moment is the Universe, pp.143-144.

Lately, I’ve been teaching with a colder water temperature.  I’ve not been using wetsuits, providing greater motivation for students to ‘stay with the action’.  I assure them that when their body and mind are absorbed in the activity, they will stay on the board.  As soon as they chase after a thought or feeling of fear, they will greatly increase their chance of falling in.  Loss of attention and focus allows the subject vs. object separation to grow.  It takes strong devotion (almost vow) to totally be absorbed in the activity, growing the unity of your body, your mind and the object.  This is real security, where confidence blooms in the face of uncertainty.  Real confidence comes from penetrating ‘this’ very moment.  Again, Katagiri Roshi writes about this:

“This practice is for everyone.  Any area of the human world—art, music, sports, or whatever you do–requires this life.  But the question is: What degree of confidence do you have?  When you have a very strong, stable confidence every day, it is called spiritual life.  If you don’t, it is called art, music, or sports.  In the practice of art, oneness appears, but outside of art it doesn’t work, so you are confused.  While playing sports you can understand oneness, but outside of sports you cannot see it because you don’t have confidence.  When you don’t have confidence, the oneness you experience is relative truth.  When confidence is always with you, oneness becomes absolute truth.  To have strong, stable confidence every day, you must concentrate yourself on making the effort to constantly approach and penetrate this very moment.” p. 146

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