May 15th, 2008
Summer brings refreshing breezes, Winter the snow;
When useless concerns don’t burden the mind,
That is your best season.
* Zen poem by 無門慧開 Wu-men Hui-kai
That was a poem shared with me which I think expresses a very Zen concept: being present and living in the moment. The translation is based loosely on that from The Light Inside the Dark and my own interpretation of the characters.
Modern life undoubtedly has brought us many great things: medical advances, high standards of living, relatively high levels of wealth, technological wonders, etc. But with that modern progress has also come an increasing drive to cram more and more into our already busy lives. Businesses constantly strive to increase productivity and output. Hordes of marketing messages bombard us, vying for our attentions through every possible media outlet. Technology has brought about innumerable means to distract ourselves and keep us constantly preoccupied. And this is even before we include the personal attentions needed for interactions with family and friends. There’s an overwhelming bounty of issues occupying our attentions and filling our minds.
All this busy-ness and preoccupation doesn’t foster personal growth or fulfillment. It’s too easy to become so overly wrapped up in all of our worries that we lose ourselves as life zooms along. If we’re not mindful, we forget how to relax and not let everything constantly wear us down. It’s good to remind ourselves that we should regularly stop and just be. The mind can easily become fettered by worries of the future, dwellings in the past, and hosts of other meaningless thoughts. You can really only experience life in the present. Letting go of all the cluttering thoughts frees the mind so that we can appreciate life in the here and now.
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