I am a troublemaker, always upsetting the apple cart of conventional thinking, I don’t adhere to an ideology. Things are not black and white, left or right. Life is not what we think. Life is fluid and is not the label I put on it. As humans, we tend to confuse reality with the labels we put on it. What are the facts on the ground? What is fake news, propaganda, and manipulation? Isn’t it just good salesmanship? What illusion am I buying into? What fantasy is dictating the next action? Are we really free? I take what works at a given time and use it to make better choices for my self and others. What is the action needed now? I am more interested in asking the question and not assuming I know. I explore, rather than buying into any conventional thinking about this and that. Rather than categorizing people by the labels, I put on them in, friend or foe, I can notice the label for what it is and drop all judgments about it and just look at what is in front of me right now. Clearly, the answers are right there. If I will only look! If I resort to reactionary blaming, denial and anger, I can stop and see that it is an expression of fear. It is understandable, yet self-defeating. When I become fixed in my view of the world, I know I have taken a wrong turn. It is not just thinking outside of the box, but realizing there is no need for the box in the first place! Having it all means something very different to me now. I no longer seek it outside of myself. Abundance isn’t something I can achieve in the competitive marketplace, it resides within beyond anyone’s ability to take it away or add to it. It is the essential breath of life and it belongs to us all equally.
In the journey I call my life,
seeing that which made me feel uncomfortable was too painful to bare.
Avoiding seeing and feeling was easier.
Looking around me, avoiding deep feeling,
avoiding connecting to pain was supported and encouraged.
Commercialized, institutionalized and rationalized
avoidance was marketed everywhere.
As a young man, I kept bouncing between seeing, feeling and avoiding pain.
I was looking everywhere for a fix,
a handbook with all the answers, a magic pill.
I became a father, a husband, a provider.
Uncharted waters of life. Nothing had prepared me for this,
I acted like I knew what I was doing.
I pretended to be what was asked of me.
I clung to beliefs and fantasies about life, but did not have a clue.
Whenever, feeling deeply surfaced,
I couldn’t or didn’t recognize what it was.
It’s gift was hidden by clouds of avoidance.
I kept substituting all kinds of addictions for feeling deeply.
Doing what I thought was right, doing what was expected.
Clinging to my deluded view, I continued to avoid seeing and feeling.
Seeing and feeling would relentlessly show up again and again.
At times, seeing that my strategy wasn’t working,
I would momentarily let go of the habitual avoidance.
Along the way, there were those that showed me another way.
Shining a mysterious light on my journey,
revealing that there was more to seeing and feeling than I knew.
Still, the dark clouds of habitual avoidance kept the gift hidden.
Then, when Death came,
I couldn’t run or avoid the upheaval,
the erupting volcano of pain.
No place to hide,
death’s sting was everywhere, in every pore.
Death woke me up to life’s impermanence.
Then came regret and shame.
I was avoiding intimacy.
Unknowingly, I was seeking that which I was avoiding.
A precious life was lost, never to return.
What have I done with my life? What have I missed?
Avoiding seeing and feeling killed access to
the very breadth and depth of my being.
Death forced me to see and returned me to myself.
Feeling and seeing all that life offers up.
It is a boundless, immeasurable gift.
Some great insight into the experiment of western zen practice that our Ordinary Zen Sangha is part of.
Paul Hedderman talks about non-duality or actually he talks about what it is not. In this video, I find the perfect expression of what I call “Ordinary Zen”.
Everyday Zen Podcasts from Norman Fisher are a wonderful resource. In particular this podcast of a Dharma talk published November 25 2016, “Living With Ease In A Crazy World – The American Election – Talk 2 Loon Lake Sesshin 2016” speaks to what we are all facing and how our practice informs our actions.