enlightenment

Quotes about work and Zen (practicing Zen at work)

For many years I struggled with how to combine two of my main interests, Zen and work. I have read that the Zen mind is the mind before thinking, so it seems like Zen and work must be totally unrelated. Over time I came to understand phrases like, “When working, just work.”

This article contains a collection of quotes that have been helpful to me in understanding the relationship between Zen and work. Please note that I don’t wrap each quote in double quotes, and I also try to attribute each quote to the correct author/speaker. If you’re interested in how to combine Zen and work, I hope you’ll find them helpful.

Enlightenment is like a free fall

“Enlightenment is like a free fall. It’s like falling off a cliff that never ends, and you’ve acclimatized to it.”

~ Shinzen Young, in this video

Shinzen Young’s story of Shingon/Shinto training

Years before I heard of Shinzen Young, I had always “enjoyed” practicing meditation in the cold. Some part of it probably goes back to childhood, when I had to wait for the schoolbus in the freezing cold of northern Illinois winters. (This was in the time before global warming.) I used to stand there without moving, and mentally I’d concentrate on not being cold, or at least not feeling the cold.

Many years later when I lived in Alaska, I used to enjoy going up into the mountains to basically inflict the same thing on myself. I always thought the “meditate deeply or suffer the consequences” approach forced me to meditate more deeply. This past winter that same “Do or die, there is not try” mentality forced me to maintain my focus and helped to combat my medically-induced lack of energy.

How wonderful is enlightenment?

“People tend to overestimate or underestimate how wonderful the experience (enlightenment) is. How wonderful is it? Well, I would say that anyone who has entered into the world of no-self, emptiness, and wisdom mind, who abides in that world, if you gave them a choice to live one day knowing what they know, or live an entire lifetime but not be allowed to know that, I think — I can’t speak for everyone — but I would say most people who live in that world would say, ‘I’d rather have one day knowing what I know than a lifetime of not being able to know this.’ So that’s how wonderful it is.”

~ Shinzen Young, in this video

Mindfulness lesson: Keep practicing, even when you don’t want to

Today’s mindfulness “lesson of the day” (mostly for myself) is a reminder to keep practicing, even when you don’t feel like it. You don’t get to choose when moments of enlightenment happen, so the best thing you can do is keep practicing so those moments will be possible when the right circumstances (karma?) come into alignment.

What happens is that over time, both the mindfulness and the enlightenment bits change the wrinkles in your brain, change your perspective and attitude, and cleanse the environmental conditioning of whatever happened to get you to this point. With continued practice you evolve (think “metamorphosis”) into a new person over time — this time a person of your own choosing, rather than a person conditioned by where and when you were born and lived.

Namaste. ;)

How to start your morning ~ The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama offers advice on how to start your mornings:

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”

I can especially dig the, “today I am fortunate to be alive” part.