Welcome back to our informal spiritual retreat BEYOND SELF 2012 in SunnyRoomStudio.
- Are you keeping a journal?
- Did you miss the first blog post for this online retreat? Look for last week’s post: Extend Your Gaze.
- Have you made it part of your practice to frequently consider how many aspects of the universe impact your life each day? Did this awareness immediately take you beyond self?
WEEK TWO: Beyond Self 2012
Are you always evaluating something? Do your thoughts run you around the block a few times before you even get up in the morning?
- What does your mind dwell on, primarily? What themes can you notice?
- How helpful is all of this “thinking” … really?
American Zen pioneer, Charlotte Joko Beck, died June 2011 at the age of 94.
Author of several books, I discovered her “little book of wisdom” called Now Zen many years ago. She also published Nothing Special and Everyday Zen: Love and Work. In 1983, Joko Beck started the San Diego Zen Center.
In Now Zen, Joko writes about staying with our perceptions instead of getting lost in evaluation.
“Our lives are basically about perception. By perception I mean whatever the senses bring in. We see, we hear, we touch, we smell, and so on. That’s what life really is. Most of the time, however, we substitute another activity for perception; we cover it over with something else, which I’ll call evaluation.”
Joko goes on to clarify that she is referring to the kind of evaluation that is ego centered. For instance …
- How will certain events impact me? Will they be pleasant or unpleasant? Do they make me important or unimportant? Does it give me something material?
She points out that it is our nature to evaluate this way, but here’s the drawback: “To the extent that we give ourselves over to evaluation of this kind, joy will be missing from our lives.”
Step back this week, observe your thought patterns. See if you can catch yourself evaluating when you should be perceiving. It seems to me (and I’m learning and practicing along with everyone else here) that essentially, our incessant evaluating is a distancing mechanism from life itself.
~ Joko Beck, Nothing Special