- In encountering ordinary life, I see that a proper sense of reverence is
usually lacking in me.
I think we're all like this- we take our life for granted, as though it
belongs to us and we can do anything we want with it. As if nothing is
owed, as if life itself were cheap- and indeed, we treat it so, don't we?
Our life, our time on this planet, usually gets handled as casually as so
much loose change in our pocket. It takes a big shock to change that.
Dogen pointed this lack out many times, and urged us to practice "as though
extinguishing flames from around our head." In other words, to value our
opportunity within life very differently--with a real sense of urgency.
It's true. There needs to be a new and completely different valuation of
life- a valuation that begins with an inner appreciation. This appreciation
needs to be born of discrimination, and of an inner sensitivity that is
usually not present.
When we are judgmental, we lack reverence. When we take the small events in
life for granted, we lack reverence. When we fail to attend--first to
ourselves, and then to others--we lack reverence. When we are drawn out of
ourselves and into what is inappropriate or childish, we lack reverence.
It's this lack of reverence that leads to my disrespect for life--and that
disrespect manifests as a failure of attention. In this state I don't
contain myself; I am outward, not inward; I am drawn into exchanges and
relationships where I am all too willing to ignore the appropriate inner
gravity. Here is where the lack of reverence, of mindfulness, becomes
Maintaining a connection to the physical gravity of the body through
sensation is the beginning of reverence. It's only through this inner sense
of touch that I can remind myself of what I am, where I am, and how
precious this commodity called life is.
Life itself is always a food. Every life becomes food for other lives:
there is no exception to this rule. As I eat, so will I be eaten, and what
I eat spiritually will become food for others, as well as my own Being.
Thus the need to approach meals with reverence: to understand that just as
every meal becomes food for the body, so every impression, no matter how
small, no matter how insignificant, becomes food for the growth of the
Eventually, it's the simultaneous receiving of both inner and outer
impressions that becomes our daily bread.
Attending to the myriad tiny rootlets of sensation helps collect such inner
food. As we meet the ordinary outer impressions of life, if we are at the
same time drawing water from the wells that lie within, we will find
May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.