It Is Making a Difference

Today a coworker asked me if I meditated, saying ‘you’re just so calm all the time. I need that.’ I let her know that yes, I did meditate every evening for about 10-20 minutes.

I also made sure to be honest, there are still times when I lose my s***.

She asked if I could teach her meditation which of course I agreed to. Providing simple instructions would be safe for her. I am no teacher of course, but I know she would be safe with a simple counting breath practice.

This evening, I thought about her asking me this and upon reflection, I guess it had not really crossed my mind much. I never really had anger issues, but I am happy that I come across as calm and collected (which I’m sure is debatable depending on which of my good friends wants to comment on this one).

Meditation has given me something with nothing more than right effort; it has given me the ability to know me. Sure, I still see my ego getting in the way of things from time to time, but I guess I finally am having a slightly easier time seeing when ego creeps it’s ugly head up. I always thought I was a bit of a pain in the behind at work, but my coworker gave me a different perspective today. I guess it is making a difference.

Finding Truth

Tree at La Purisima Mission


If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it? — Dogen

Before enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water. After enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water. — Hsin Hsin Ming

Two old quotes I constantly refer back to any time I find myself looking elsewhere for a truth. Where am I looking? Why?

And every time I ask, I realize the answer is no where but the present. In my ignorance, I seem to ask this question often and the answer is always the same. Present moment.

For the better part of this year life seems to be speeding by like a bullet train barely hanging on to the track as it makes a turn. Not yet out of control, but sometimes it feels like the track isn’t even there. My saving grace is an amazing group of people I am privileged to call my family and my friends. And my nightly meditation practice. The solitude of my cushion, even though the monkey in my mind just drank a Jolt Cola and is having fun doing back flips on a tightrope, 100 feet above the ground.

Last night I noticed something; the monkey appeared to be tired. And maybe he was tired, but I returned to counting my breath, to present moment, to truth.

And I realized something, I have a lot more wood to chop and water to carry.

the cricket

I sit down on my cushions for my nightly meditation, tucking my feet in, straightening my back, lowering my eyelids, putting in effort to have no attachment to thoughts.
A cricket chirps loudly.

I hear the sound of my son turn another page in his book.

A cricket is keeping me company during my sit.

I hear my wife move downstairs, and a plane make its journey across the sky overhead.

I notice the rhythm of the cricket are in time with the melody of the beating in my chest, my breath in sync. The sound is quiet yet massive all at once, 10,000 Buddhas in all directions, all in sync, with nothing to be in sync with. I am not separate from this cricket. Suchness. All as it should be, nothing more, nothing less.

I decide I am finished, join my palms, and take refuge as I do every night.

I smile and thank the cricket.

laundry and suffering

one of my many teachers

The big man and I were cleaning his clothes out yesterday and once we removed everything he had outgrow, decided it would be good to wash all his t-shirts. He had so many in his drawer that it was overflowing (and a side effect of the overflow was wrinkles). He’s been very helpful with folding, but this time he decided to sit on the couch and whine a little when I said it was time to help.

I took that opportunity to talk to him about his reaction and suffering.

“You know, how you react to this task is only affecting you”

“I don’t want to fold”

“It’s not my favorite thing to do either, but, how I react to it directly relates to whether it is hard to get through, or easy. You see, if there is something I don’t particularly enjoy doing, I can make a choice; do I decide ‘this is horrible, I hate this’, or, ‘this isn’t my favorite thing to do, but I can get through it pretty quick so no big deal’. If I choose the first reaction, I suffer. However, if I choose the second, I don’t, and I also usually get through the task much quicker. Which do you think would be the better decision?”

“Saying it’s no big deal.”

“Yep. Do you know where I learned that?”

“Your Dad?”

“Great guess, but actually, it was <I point my eyes up and to the left, towards our Buddha that sits in the front room>”

“From Buddha. <as he smiles>”

“Yep. That is one of the most basic, yet, most important teachings. It is also why I sit every night. So the mind I have when I sit, can be the mind I have when I work on a task that I don’t particularly care for.”

“<he smiles some more> OK”

And you know, we got through folding that laundry basket full of his t-shirts pretty quickly.

(also posted to my own blog ‘life as practice’)