Thursday, March 6, 2008

Reverence - The inner sense of touch


  1. 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
    evident.

    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
    soul.

    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
    satisfaction.

    May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.

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