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Listen to the Traffic

From "Practicing This Very Moment" in Charlotte Joko Beck's Everyday Zen:

Our Zen training is designed to enable us to live comfortable lives. But the only people who live comfortably are those who learn not to dream their lives away, but to be with what's right-here-now, no matter what it is: good, bad, nice, not nice, headache, being ill, being happy. It doesn't make any difference.

One mark of a mature Zen student is a sense of groundedness. When you meet one you sense it. They're with life as it's really happening, not as a fantasy version of it. And of course, the storms of life eventually hit them more lightly. If we can accept things just the way they are, we're not going to be greatly upset by anything. And if we do become upset it's over more quickly.

Let's look at the sitting process itself. What we need to do is to be with what's happening right now. You don't have to believe me; you can experiment for yourself. When I am drifting away from the present, what I do is listen to the traffic. I make sure there's nothing I miss. Nothing. I just really listen. And that's just as good as a koan, because it's what's happening this very moment. So as Zen students you have a job to do, a very important job: to bring your life out of dreamland and into the real and immense reality that it is.

The job is not easy. It takes courage. Only people who have tremendous guts can do this practice for more than a short time. But we don't do it just for ourselves. Perhaps we do at first; that's fine. But as our life gets grounded, gets real, gets basic, other people immediately sense it, and what we are begins to influence everything around us.

We are, actually, the whole universe. ...

^z - 2014-11-12