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.
Last night, I did my normal routine of tucking the big man in to bed then going into the office for my nightly meditation. I started and I believe about 10 minutes had gone by before I heard
Dad, are you already sitting?
Can you come in here?
So I go into his room and he asks if I can sit with him for a couple minutes. I always enjoy this. The way I saw it, I didn’t have to end my meditation, this was just an extension of it.
I kneeled down next to his bed and placed my hand on his head as I usually have when I get to do this. Instead of just my own breath to concentrate on, I also had his. I noticed the minute he fell asleep (his breathing makes an ever so slight change, I noticed that years ago), and figured I was done meditating for the night as well.
Parents, if you have the opportunity, I highly recommend a “tucking in” meditation session every once in a while.
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 had a Foursquare account. At first it was fun, checking in everywhere I went, tracking where I had been, competing with friends to be ‘Mayor’ of a location. Harmless fun.
Then I started to take notice of something unexpected; almost as if I were watching myself as a third person. Checking in everywhere was getting in the way. Getting in the way of talking with those accompanying me to each location. Getting in the way of ordering food at a restaurant. Getting in the way of watching the movie I had paid to see, or at least the credits beforehand. Getting in the way of playing in the park with my son.
Getting in the way of being present.
I made my last check-in on Foursquare in December of 2011 at my favorite place to eat, and I don’t miss it one bit.
Sure, I’ll still ‘check-in’ every once in awhile. If I’m sharing a picture from Instagram or Google+ I may turn on the location feature if I think it adds to the output. But this is now the exception rather than the rule.
Now I concentrate more on the experience at hand. And being present.