The great gate is open, but travelers seek everywhere??? - Eshin
In the midst of our lives, hungry, thirsty and often weary, there comes a moment when we stop and wonder, ???Is this all there is? Is there another way to live my life that will bring the joy and contentment that eludes me????
Why Zen? Why Now?
Caught in the patterns of our lives, each of us has an intuition of something beyond the way we are now living. This something has the power to dispel sorrow and transform our lives into one of wholeness and joy. This is what Zen offers. This ancient practice has the power to heal division and offer the strength, compassion and refreshment we all desire.
The truth about Zen is that it is simple, and best practiced right in the midst of our everyday lives. This presents a unique opportunity. We now have the chance to grow like flowers, planted in the soil of our daily concerns.
As we begin to live the Zen way, we develop a new way of knowing and of being in the world. We do not analyze, explain or justify what happens. Rather than try to mold or control our experience, we simply make friends with it, become acquainted, let it instruct us and be our guide.
Finding Zen First Steps
When people find out about Zen they often become excited, feeling as though they have stumbled upon something, which will quickly change their entire lives. Along with this excitement comes a rush of hopes, dreams and demands. We always approach Zen the way we approach the rest of our lives.
But Zen turns things upside down and then right side up again. Here are some fundamental pointers which show the new direction your life will take:
Pointers and Warnings
These pointers are for beginning students. A student can be considered a ???beginning student??? for the first 50 years or more. Take a deep breath. We are not going anywhere fast. In fact, we are returning ??" back to our original home.
Zen Pointer 1 ??" Stop Looking For A Quick Fix
A great danger in our lives is looking for a quick fix, believing there are all kinds of wise ones around who have the answers for our lives. That is not the point of Zen. What is the point? Do it yourself and find out. No one else can tell you. As they say in Zen, ???Don???t put a head on your head. What???s wrong with your own, anyway????
Zen Pointer 2 ??" Give Up Unnecessary Pressure
Most of the time we create all kinds of goals and drive ourselves crazy to reach them. We measure our progress, compare ourselves to others, judge ourselves relentlessly. This is not the Zen way. Here we focus upon each breath, each day, each moment and experience it totally. One complete breath brings the next. The path is made by walking.
Zen Pointer 3 - Go Back To The Beginning
Many are constantly seeking more and more, exploring new territories, ideas, relationships. They then feel they are advancing and gaining ground. However, many rush forward without really knowing where they are going. Once they arrive, they quickly set a new destination and start rushing to it again.
The Zen way is to return to the beginning. We stop, sit down, look within. We remember where we came from, who we are and where we are headed. We also remember to take care of our simple lives as well as the lives of others along the way.
By returning to our original nature, we remember how to sit, breathe, eat, play and re-claim the excitement, joy and adventure we felt as children, but lost along the way.
???The plum tree of my hut,
It couldn???t be helped,
Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.D., author of Living By Zen (Timeless Truths For Everyday Life) http://www.livingbyzen.com, is a psychologist, speaker, and author. Her work integrates Zen and everyday life. She is also author of Zen And The Art Of Falling In Love, (Simon and Schuster) and Zen Miracles (Finding Peace In An Insane World), among other books. Her personal website is http://www.brendashoshanna.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org