Caught Up

Welcome to Week Nine of Beyond Self 2012 — our informal, spiritual retreat in SunnyRoomStudio.  An opportunity to delve into a spiritual practice, to keep a journal, to meditate.  It’s up to you.  Most of us know what we’d like to do (or need to do) to enhance our spirituality — to explore it more fully, to get beyond our ideas of old.  Our conditioned mind habits.  So I hope these weekly spiritual prompts are useful to you in your journey.

Yes, procrastination is oddly tempting.  The world beckons.  Distractions abound.  Excuses proliferate.  Priorities shift and sway.  Are you all caught up in everything around you … close by or far away?

  • So what do you choose?

WEEK NINE: Beyond Self 2012

Week One: Extend Your Gaze
Week Two: Always Evaluating
Week Three: Being Brevity
Week Four: Entanglement
Week Five: Beyond Attachment
Week Six: Eternal Nature
Week Seven: If Only
Week Eight: Nonresistance

The truth you believe in and cling to makes you unavailable
to hear anything new.
~ Pema Chodron

We talk about wanting choice in our lives all the time.  We bemoan the lack of time in our lives to do what matters.  We complain incessantly.  Do you ever catch yourself being hyper-critical of the world around you?  Where is your focus at times like this?

  • External 

As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, we put a great deal of our attention on everything besides our internal worlds.  Escapism from self is not the same as going beyond self.  How would you explain the difference?  From a Zen perspective, if you see this premise operating in your daily life, what might you do to counteract this dynamic?

Here’s a scenario that might resonate with you.

Let’s say you’ve decided to meditate from 4 to 5 each afternoon.  You’ve delved into Zen enough to understand the importance of “sitting” … of meditation.  You know what zazen means.  You are ready to do this, at last.  You’ve cleared all the resistance from your mind and finally realize the massive book you wanted to pen called “Knowing Everything” was never meant to be written … not by a mere mortal. (yes, smiling)

AND you even have opened yourself to learning, to growing spiritually — no matter your age, background, education, or life situation.

You even found a stylish sitting cushion and placed it in a quiet spot in your home.  The stage is truly set.  Your spiritual adventure is about to begin.  Unfolding with grace and charm.

  • Yet, the ego resists.  The ego prefers drama, feeling “caught up” in all things external — all things that have nothing to do with calming the mind or dipping into uncharted spiritual waters.

Besides, maybe you really do know everything already.  You can sit back and coast through life clinging to status (the ego loves status) or a past that disappeared long ago.  Or you can simply hide behind the scenes, ridiculing everyone around you … people who are committed to a spiritual practice.  Or those who are willing to venture beyond self to discover their spiritual dimension more fully.  In other words, you prefer to “escape” self by closing yourself off from ideas that challenge you.  The idea of “sitting” to observe your own thoughts, to encounter the reality of your own dysfunctional mind, is something you shun.  Or run from.

The eye with which I see God is the very
same eye with which God sees me.
 Meister Eckhart

If any of this sounds remotely familiar, I’m sure you are in good company.  Most of us encounter our own resistance to spiritual growth at one time or another.  The idea of transcending self to explore a vast universal intelligence simply isn’t compelling.  But why?  What is holding you back?

  • What do you choose?

 Zen is not a philosophy, it is poetry. It does not propose, it simply persuades. It does not argue, it simply sings its own song. ~ Osho

  • What are you caught up in today that prevents you from beginning … from following through with your intentions?

Author, international speaker Dinty W. Moore wrote The Accidental Buddhist: Mindfulness, Enlightenment, and Sitting Still and The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life.  Moore is also a professor and director of creative writing at Ohio University.

He uses a phrase, in the introduction to The Mindful Writer, that is a wonderful reminder to all of us.  He’s writing about discontent, noting how discontent (or suffering) comes about because of our grasping, craving, and clinging … our desire to make permanent what will always be fleeting.  So Moore points to an alternative reality: living a deliberate and intentional life.  This week, as you go about your day, stop every so often, ask yourself if you are indeed living a deliberate and intentional life.

  • It’s not as easy as it sounds.  In fact, it can be quite challenging.

Zen is the game of insight, the game of discovering who you are beneath the social masks. ~ R. H. Blythe

  • Thank you for joining us here this week.  Since comments are closed during this retreat, I encourage you to keep a journal or to otherwise focus on your spiritual practice.  In December, I will open comments to those who want to share a few insights from their journey beyond self.  Until then, I look forward to seeing you here next Friday for Week 10.

“If you are unable to find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?” ~ Dogen

Blog by DazyDayWriter @ work in SunnyRoomStudio: all rights reserved.

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