“We Absolutely Insist on Enjoying Life”

Photo by Shawna Donaldson.

“We Absolutely Insist on Enjoying Life”

Discussion date: Thu, Mar 31, 2022 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Thursday Evening Online Program
March 31, 2022, 7:00 to 8:45 pm

Dear Still Water Friends,

Recently, in a Still Water morning meditation, we read this passage from the “You Are Enough” section in The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh:

The renowned ninth-century Chinese Zen master Lin-Chi taught that “humans and buddhas are not two,” and declared, “There is no difference between you and the Buddha!” He was saying that you are already enough. We don’t need to do anything special to be a buddha and cultivate our buddha body. We just need to live a simple authentic life. Our true person, our true self, doesn’t need a particular job or position. Our true self doesn’t need money, fame or status. Our true self doesn’t need anything. We just live our life deeply in the present moment. When we eat, we just eat. When we wash the dishes, we just wash the dishes. When we use the bathroom, we just enjoy using the bathroom. When we walk, we just walk. When we sit, we just sit. Doing all of these things is a wonder, and the art of living is to do them in freedom.

Freedom is a practice and a habit. We have to train ourselves to walk as a free person, sit as a free person. We need to train ourselves how to live.

Immediately, I asked myself, How much do I really enjoy my life? Enjoy in the sense of taking delight or pleasure in my everyday activities and surroundings.

On my way to the kitchen for my morning coffee, I have a habit of stopping by the window in the living room where I have snippets of several house plants in jars and vases of water. I look into the clear containers to observe the development of roots. I’m always delighted and amazed by the growth that occurs in these plants from just sitting in water in the sunny window area.

I like socks that are mostly cotton. When shopping for socks, I carefully read the label to determine the make up of the socks, but do I really enjoy my socks once I have purchased them? How much of my time is spent going from one task to another, lost in thoughts about what I have to do or ruminating about what I haven’t accomplished? How much time is spent lamenting the state of the world and not really enjoying the life I have right here and now? What is the point of having cotton socks if once I bring them home, I don’t enjoy them? How do I go about enjoying the socks? I know it seems like a silly thing to question whether or not I enjoy my socks, but the point I am making is that I realize how I am not in the present moment most of the time.

In meditation, I have learned to observe and name things as they arise. That is helpful, but to enjoy things means to go a little deeper. Lately I have been trying to feel in my body what I am doing. The softness and the warmth of my socks on my feet. The feeling of the green rug beneath my feet as I brush my teeth. You get the idea. It is naming it and going a little further. I have been trying to do this with everything. The feeling of the sheets on my skin, the pajamas, the comforter. Just really breaking it down.

I have been involved in 12-Step programs for many years. A section from the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book comes to mind:

We have been speaking to you of serious, sometimes tragic things. We have been dealing with alcohol in its worst aspect. But we aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it. We absolutely insist on enjoying life. We try not to indulge in cynicism over the state of the nations, nor do we carry the world’s troubles on our shoulders. When we see a man sinking into the mire that is alcoholism, we give him first aid and place what we have at his disposal. For his sake, we do recount and almost relive the horrors of our past. But those of us who have tried to shoulder the entire burden and trouble of others find we are soon overcome by them.

So we think cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness. Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we burst into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. But why shouldn’t we laugh? We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.

Having come from a background where there was much suffering and struggle due to mental health and substance abuse issues, I think it’s important to find joy in as many aspects of life as possible, including how great it is to have nice socks, to share my life struggles with others, and to support organizations that will alleviate some of the great suffering going on in our world.

This Thursday evening we will begin our Dharma sharing with these questions:

  • Do you absolutely insist on enjoying life?
  • If not, what do you think is standing in the way?
  • What tools or practices help you to be present and enjoy life?
  • Do you find enjoyment in helping others?

I look forward to hearing your reflections!

The complete “You Are Enough” section from The Art of Living is below.

To receive the Thursday evening Zoom link, please email Greg at ZoomTeam@StillWaterMPC.org.

Namaste,

Shawna


If you are active on social media, please support Still Water by following us on Instagram and Facebook:

                


You Are Enough
From The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh 

The renowned ninth-century Chinese Zen master Lin-Chi taught that “humans and buddhas are not two,” and declared, “There is no difference between you and the Buddha!” He was saying that you are already enough. We don’t need to do anything special to be a buddha and cultivate our buddha body. We just need to live a simple authentic life. Our true person, our true self, doesn’t need a particular job or position. Our true self doesn’t need money, fame or status. Our true self doesn’t need anything. We just live our life deeply in the present moment. When we eat, we just eat. When we wash the dishes, we just wash the dishes. When we use the bathroom, we just enjoy using the bathroom. When we walk, we just walk. When we sit, we just sit. Doing all of these things is a wonder, and the art of living is to do them in freedom.

Freedom is a practice and a habit. We have to train ourselves to walk as a free person, sit as a free person. We need to train ourselves how to live.

The Buddha also ate, walked, and went to the toilet. But he did so in freedom, not rushing from one thing to the next. Can we live like that? Can we use our time just to live true to ourselves? If we are still seeking or pursuing something else, something more, we’re not yet aimless. We’re not yet free, and we’re not yet our true self. Our true self is already there within us, and as soon as we can see it, we become a free person. We have been free from beginningless time. We just need to be able to recognize it.

I once had a chance to visit the Buddhist Ajanta Caves in the state of Maharashtra in India. They are entirely carved out of the mountain rock. There are living quarters, with holes dug out for monks to put their alms bowls and sanghati robes in. The day I visited it was very hot, and I lay down to enjoy the pleasant coolness and freshness of the cave.

Nothing was brought from the outside to make those caves. The temples were simply dug out of the rock. The more rock they removed, the larger the caves became. Touching our true self, our true nature, is like that. All the things we think we’ve got to find on the outside are already there inside us. Lovingkindness, understanding, and compassion are there within us. We need only to clear some of the rock obstructing the way in order to reveal them. There is no essence of holiness we need to seek outside. And there is no essence of the ordinary we have to destroy. We already are what we want to become. Even in our most difficult moments, everything that is good, true, and beautiful is already there, within us and around us. We just have to live in such a way that allows it to be revealed.

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Mar 31, 2022


Share:

November 2022
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Sun, October 30 Mon, October 31

Friends in Different Places

Tue, November 1 Wed, November 2

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Kent Island Evening Practice

Spanish-Speaking Online Practice

Thu, November 3 Fri, November 4 Sat, November 5

Mindful Artmaking

Sun, November 6 Mon, November 7

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Friends in Different Places

Tue, November 8 Wed, November 9

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Kent Island Evening Practice

Spanish-Speaking Online Practice

Thu, November 10 Fri, November 11

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Sat, November 12
Sun, November 13 Mon, November 14

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Friends in Different Places

Tue, November 15 Wed, November 16

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Kent Island Evening Practice

Spanish-Speaking Online Practice

Thu, November 17 Fri, November 18

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Sat, November 19
Sun, November 20 Mon, November 21

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Friends in Different Places

Tue, November 22 Wed, November 23

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Kent Island Evening Practice

Spanish-Speaking Online Practice

Thu, November 24 Fri, November 25

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Sat, November 26
Sun, November 27 Mon, November 28

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Friends in Different Places

Tue, November 29 Wed, November 30

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Kent Island Evening Practice

Spanish-Speaking Online Practice

Thu, December 1 Fri, December 2

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Sat, December 3

Mindful Artmaking