zen

Meditation: From Guilty -> I could do this forever

I’ve been listening to the song Guilty by Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb lately, and it reminds me that when you first start meditating there can be a lot of guilt associated with attempting to meditate. Various thoughts include:

  • This is dumb
  • This is a waste of time
  • I’m not getting anywhere
  • I should be doing [fill-in-the-blank]

These thoughts can last a long time, until that one day that your meditation finds your groove, all of the “mind noise” goes away, and you think, “I could do this for the rest of my life.”

So today’s thought is one of persistence: If some part of you finds yourself wanting to meditate, there might just be some voice hidden deep in your mind wanting this. So vow to keep working at it until that one day when you find the sweet spot and then think, “I could do this for the rest of my life.”

You can’t learn to meditate in the middle of a crisis

Wednesday Zen:

One time an employee came into my office, closed my door, and said, “How are you so calm? I’m going nuts!” As I would learn, he had some stress from work, but even more from his personal life. I tried to help him slow down, breathe, and talk, but he was frantic and almost impossible to help.

The thing about meditation and stillness of mind is that you can’t just start it one day in the middle of a crisis, like when you feel a sudden twinge of chest pain or you’re laying in a hospital bed with a virus trying to suffocate your heart. By then it’s too late.

Morality, the first meditation training

I wrote a long time ago that compassion and forgiveness are important when you get into deep meditation states. As this paragraph from Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha suggests, they’re also helpful for beginning meditation states.

(As an example, a long time ago I went to a Zen center for a meditation retreat, and when I’d start meditating I’d think, “I wish I had done X when I was at home, it really bothers me that I didn’t do that. In fact, it’s driving me nuts.” I was eventually able to meditate, but whenever I lost my concentration, this was always the first thought that came up.

RZA: Ghost Dog: Form is emptiness, emptiness is form

I don't know much about rap/hip-hop, but thanks to Ghost Dog I do know about RZA and the Wu-Tang Clan.

From Ghost Dog:

“Our bodies are given life
from the midst of nothingness.

Existing where there is nothing
is the meaning of the phrase,
Form is emptiness.

That all things are provided for
by nothingness is the meaning of the phrase,
Emptiness is form.

One should not think that
these are two separate things.”

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.