Making the Ordinary Extraordinary

From Chapter 28 ("The Most Intimate Connection") of Subtle Sound: The Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart:

Somebody came to me recently and said she was confused, because a famous teacher had told her to think about death, and she thought she should think about life. But of course they go together. Living, dying, living, dying. Life and death matters are Zen matters. Life is so precious, we should feel as if every single breath of it might be our last; we should make the most of it. Every single day, however ordinary, is extraordinary. Another person came and said she had read an essay that said life was mostly about middles; there were great highs and great lows, but mostly it was middles. She thought this made it sound awfully dull. Is this how we feel? Make the middles extraordinary middles! Every day is a good day if useless things do not clutter up the mind. Make the ordinary extraordinary.

We experience this every day during sesshin: everything becomes clearer, everything shines. We walk into the kitchen and the vegetables are leaping with light and energy, the peanut butter is glistening! Ordinary things are extraordinary because of what is going on in our minds. If we have a middling mind, we'll have middles. If we are awake and aware and practicing every single minute—not just on the cushion—everything is glowing and dynamic, not muddling middling.

^z - 2017-09-11