Seeing the Pattern

Life can be consuming…if we let it.  Sometimes it feels like we are stuck in the traffic of life!  I’ve always loved this writing.  Perspective!  Own it!!!


Intelligent zazen (practice) means making a subtle shift constantly, step by step, first from the grosser levels to the more subtle, and to the more subtle, and to the more subtle; beginning to see right through what we call our personality, this one that we’ve been talking about.  We begin to really look at the mind, the body, the thoughts, the sense perceptions, everything that we thought was ourself.

The first part of our practice is as if we were in the middle of a confused, busy street; we can hardly find an empty place and the traffic is going every which way.  It’s confusing and frightening.  And that’s the way our life feels to most of us.  We’re so busy jumping out of the way of what’s coming toward us that we can’t understand our own entrapment in the traffic.  But if we watch it for a while we begin to see that there are holes in the traffic here and there.  We might even step on to the sidewalk and begin to take a more objective look.  And no matter how busy the traffic, here and there, we begin to notice clear areas.

Now our third step might be to go into a tall building and climb onto the third floor balcony and observe the traffic from there.  Now it looks different; we can see the direction of it, which way it’s moving.  We see that in a way that it doesn’t have anything to do with us, it’s just going on.

If we climb higher and higher and higher, eventually we see that the traffic is just patterns; it’s beautiful, not frightening.  It’s just what it is and we begin to see it as a tremendous panorama.  We begin to see areas of difficulty as part of the whole, not necessarily good or bad; just a part of life.  And after years of practice we may reach a place where we just enjoy what we see; enjoy ourselves, enjoy everything just as it is.  We can enjoy it by not being caught by it, seeing it’s impermanence and it’s flow.

Then we go further, to the stage of being the witness of our life.  It’s all going on, it’s all enjoyable; we’re not caught by any of it.  And in the final state of our practice we’re back in the street, back in the marketplace, right in the middle of the hubbub.  But seeing the confusion for what it is, we’re free of it.  We can love it, enjoy it, serve it, and our life is seen as what it has always been – free and liberated.