Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
The Golden Rule: That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.
Maryanne Wolf on memory and experience
“There is a difference, between immediate recall of facts and an ability to recall a gestalt of knowledge. We can’t retrieve the specifics, but to adapt a phrase of William James’s, there is a wraith of memory. The information you get from a book is stored in networks. We have an extraordinary capacity for storage, and much more is there than you realize. It is in some way working on you even though you aren’t thinking about it.”
Did this mean that it hadn’t been a waste of time to read all those books, even if I seemingly couldn’t remember what was in them?
“It’s there,” Wolf said. “You are the sum of it all.”
This was very encouraging, and it makes intuitive sense: we have been formed by an accretion of experiences, only a small number of which we can readily recall.”
There is another world, but it is in this one.
Our practice is to meet life exactly as it is and to notice whatever fear, anger, or doubt gets in the way of direct intimate contact with this moment, bringing attention to that as well. Rather than changing something or seeking to get somewhere we imagine we should be, practice is about seeing clearly exactly how things really are and how we relate to them. Practice thus becomes an increasing intimacy with life just as it is, and there is nothing—including the ideas that we should be getting something or somewhere—that is unworthy of the clear, nonjudgmental attention we call mindfulness.
“We often tend to understand meditation—in Zen especially—as getting rid of thoughts. We think that if we can just get rid of thought, then we can see the world as it is, clearly, without any interference from conceptuality. We view thinking as something negative that has to be eliminated in order to realize the emptiness of the mind. But this reflects the delusion of duality, rather than the solution to duality. As Dogen put it, the point isn’t to get rid of thought, but to liberate thought. Form is emptiness, yet emptiness is also form, and our emptiness always takes form. We don’t realize our emptiness apart from form, we realize it in form, as non-attached form. One of the very powerful and creative ways that our emptiness takes form is as thought. The point isn’t to have some pure mind, untainted by thought, like a blue, completely empty sky with no clouds. After a while that gets a little boring! Rather, one should be able to engage or play with the thought processes that arise in a creative, non-attached, nondualistic way. To put it in another way, the idea isn’t to get rid of all language, it’s to be free within language, so that one is non-attached to any particular kind of conceptual system, realizing that there are many possible ways of thinking and expressing oneself. The freedom from conceptualizing that we seek does not happen when we wipe away all thoughts; instead, it happens when we’re not clinging to, or stuck in, any particular thought system. The kind of transformation we seek in our spiritual practices is a mind that’s flexible, supple. Not a mind that clings to the empty blue sky. It’s a mind that’s able to dance with thoughts, to adapt itself according to the situation, the needs of the situation. It’s not an empty mind which can’t think. It’s an ability to talk with the kind of vocabulary or engage in the way that’s going to be most helpful in that situation.
I’m reminded of something that the Buddha says in the Pali Canon. One of his students asks him, “Whenever somebody asks a question, you know the answer. You have this ability to answer anything. It’s amazing. How are you able to keep all this information in your mind?” The Buddha answers to the effect that, well, it’s not that way at all. My mind is empty. According to the situation, the proper thoughts, the proper response arises naturally and spontaneously. It’s the freedom to engage rather than to just empty the mind that needs to be emphasized.”
—from Dr. David R. Loy, the Besl Family Chair of Ethics/Religion & Society at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH, authorized teacher in the Sanbo Kyodan lineage of Zen Buddhism, and prolific Buddhist author. Dr. Loy is also the co-author with Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi and Dr. John Stanley of the Buddhist Climate Declaration.
—Courtesy of the Rev. Danny Fisher