Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The Elegant Beauty of Mindfulness

Every-Minute Zen

Zen students are with their masters at least ten years before they presume to teach others. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who, having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in remarked: "I suppose you left your wooden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs."

Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry his Zen every minute. He became Nan-in's pupil, and he studied six more years to accomplish his every-minute Zen.

Every time I hear the word mindfulness, I chuckle because it reminds me of the lines from The Police song, Every Breath You Take:
Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
Ill be watching you

Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
Ill be watching you
Mindfulness, also known as right attention or right awareness is ones effort to remained focused on the mind's activities, the bodies actions and the world around them from moment to moment. This mindfulness of watching and awareness is such an extraordinary effort we can make in practice because of its basic simplicity and its many benefits, even outside of Buddhist philosophy. Its meant to be incorporated into our everyday lives as a living activity, focusing our energy and presence to here and now.

"Living in the moment can become a moralistic principle, a burden rather than a way to intensify life. The difference might depend on who takes the lead in the dance and who chooses the music. The soul is a community of many interior persons, many of them capable leaders. The ego is only one among them and probably should not always run the show. A good dancer or musician allows the music to take over, becomes absorbed in the complex harmonies and tempos, and is the servant of the materials at hand. The secret of a soul-based life is to allow someone or something other than the usual self to be in charge."
~Thomas Moore, Original Self: Living with Paradox and Originality

Mindfulness is that keen eye that sees the giant orange ball of flame that rises slowly above the chilled morning desert. It is that ear that hears the lovely whistle of the wind through the willing trees in an autumn breeze. It is the nose that smells the cleansing summer rain steaming off the hot black asphalt. It is the mouth that tastes the smallest seeds of a lush tomato freshly picked off the ripened vine. Its is the touch that feels the warm soft cheek of your lovers face. Most importantly it is the minds eye that understands all these words and thoughts come nothing close to be being what they are as experienced.