Accepting Yourself Completely

Actualization can be as simple as sitting in the moment and letting life come to you.

| April 2019

Photo by Getty Images/Kate_Koreneva.

I want to remind you once again how well you’re doing. Not only are you above ground but you’re also vertical. It’s rather unusual and remarkable to sit in meditation or to spend a day in silence. I think we sometimes take for granted or forget how unusual it is to sit quietly, experiencing our experience, tasting and knowing, touching our lives. To sit in this way and to walk in this way and to spend the day quietly is to experience the self in ways we don’t usually have the opportunity to do. It’s rare to notice the moments of life in more detail, or to feel our feelings, or perhaps to notice how much the mind races, or to find that we are still and quiet. Often we’re rather busy in our lives and not quite so aware. We don’t typically touch or taste or experience so intimately.

Just so you know, whatever you experience today, this is awakening. This is realization. We may have various ideas about what we might attain or accomplish: a special experience we might have that would be particularly peaceful or quiet, brilliant or dazzling. And of course, from time to time, people have such experiences. And then what? Usually, you will want to repeat it. When it doesn’t last, you wonder, What’s wrong with my practice now? Yesterday I had such a great experience. Or maybe you try to tell everybody, “I’ve had this great experience. I expect you to bow to me from now on.” What will a picturesque experience do for you — once it’s over?

Any experience that can appear and that you can describe will also disappear. It will be one more experience in all the experiences that arise and disappear. It’s not possible to have any experience that would make all the difference in your life from now on — though it’s tempting to want to have the one experience that will make all the difference from now on. Often we think, If I could get rid of my anger or my desire or sit more still or be more concentrated or be more settled, then I would get the experience that will make all the difference in my life from now on.

Do you understand how difficult this is? Not only is it difficult — it’s impossible. In other words, it’s a kind of mistake to try to get these experiences that will make all the difference. I say “a kind of mistake” because in making this big effort, we begin utilizing resources from deep beneath the surface of our lives, which in itself is valuable.

In Dōgen’s school of Zen, we encourage ourselves to practice actualizing the present moment closely, not in order to attain a special experience but to let the experience come home to our hearts. By letting our awareness be touched by our experience, we wake up, we are moved by things, and we begin to respond to things from our hearts.

4/26/2019 2:15:45 PM

Excellent read. Thank you.

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