Wednesday, December 6, 2006

On valuation

I had one of those days today where I'm just grateful. It was another very hectic day, but at the end of it, as I walked out of the office, I was glad that I have the job I have and work with the people I work with. I'm glad I have the problems I have. All of it helps me to learn something new about life.

This isn't a matter of psychology. When we're really glad about things there's no need to engage in tricks to help make ourselves think we're happy. Happiness is intrinsic. There's no way to think one's way into it.

Another way of looking at it is that it's organic. I know I keep coming back to that word almost obessisvely- are you sick of hearing about it? Sorry about that. But I keep using it for a reason.

The reason is that when it comes to satisfaction, we have to find what we are seeking within the organism first. Trying to find it in the mind is useless. The mind is a dog that endlessly chases its own tail.

We already know a little bit about that because we understand the satisfaction that comes from a good meal: some risotto with mushrooms, for example, or a nice bowl of soup. But we don't know enough about it.

All the impressions we take into ourselves during a day are food, too, and generally speaking they are excellent food, if we receive them correctly. Once we begin to straighten out the way we receive impressions, they feed the whole organism differently. Air tastes different. Colors look different. Yelling at our kids feels different. All of that stems from an active engagement with our inner being, and an active force that arises within the body. When the mind develops a deeper connection with the body life just feels better, that's all there is to it. It's an end in itself.

I was speaking to a person I work with yesterday and we were discussing an exercise, and I reminded him : Don't do it with the mind. The difficulty is that we try to do just about everything with the mind.

In the traditional stories, every Zen master repeatedly points towards this. We have to go beyond the mind to go anywhere real.

Going beyond mind involves finding not just the lotus, but the root of the lotus. In western culture, we believe that it's the flower of the mind that sustains our being, but actually it is the exact opposite.

The root of being, planted in the firm, warm mud and exquisite darkness of the body, is what nourishes and sustains the flower of the mind. As we cultivate our garden, it informs our lives and gives birth to leaves of attention.

These spread themselves in gratitude to receive the sunlight of our impressions. And we learn how to pray not just with words, but with our whole life.

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