Zen has its roots in the Sanskrit word “dhyana” which directly translated is Meditation – a state of awareness connected deeply with ones own existence. In my own experience I see it as a “Freedom from a self defeating Mind conditioned for judgement and analysis”- by quieting my judging and analyzing mind, during meditation I reconnect with the simplicity and contentment of everything that is around me, at that very moment.
This practice breaks down the limitations and alterations that the mind that is focused with the created self might put upon me – viewing it in a functional sense it brings me outside the proverbial “Box” of the mind that is telling me how things “should” be – this increased attunement to the moment and feeling then enhances creativity, intuition and motivation.
In this article we explore an insight to Zen Poetry and how Zen meditation connects you more deeply with the moment and your “perfect-self” – a self with no limitations, no delusions.
Let us begin with a Zen poem.
Spring songs already quieting.
But the ancient source still bubbles forth.
It’s a mistake my modern friends to wound that heart,
by trying to cross the stream.
This Zen “Koan” could evoke in you great visualizations, a moment of realization, or nothing at all – the latter being the most powerful as a Zen Master would elude to.
This February 25th-27th I had the great privilege to sit and explore Zen Meditation and poetry with Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara PhD. Her center The Village Zendo is located on the 11th floor of a building in the heart of Manhattan, Enkyo Roshi is a respected teacher for the Soto and Rinzai lines of Zen – Soto utilizes more seated and slow movement inspired meditations, while Rinzai practiced by Samurai’s is Koan based using absorptive quick movements – “wake-up!” “in the moment” techniques of meditation. Both have a sole purpose – to connect you with intimate depth to existence and the present moment.
The three day retreat was a great balance of seated and walking meditations, guided by Enkyo Roshi’s experience rich and compassionate insight. Held in the Hart House at U of T’s Toronto Campus, the weekend left the whole group with an incredible, resonating insight about themselves and connection to everyone around them.
We explored awareness techniques and Zen poetry, with the fundamental theme being to shift away from a state of always rationalizing the moment, to a state that lives in the moment, enjoying it, connected to it.
This delicate balance of experiencing existence portrayed through the words of those who have spent their life in the moment and by immersing my body and mind in the same state, lead to a profound intimate experience of everything around me. Reconnecting with my own practice and teaching of meditation.
One of the excerpts of poetry we explored was the above Koan called “The Creek” written in the 1800’s.
As most Zen poems it puts you into a state of experiencing what is happening rather than trying to figure it out. It also illustrates the intimacy of connecting with existence, and the reality that we face in our own lives of finding a connection to what we are doing, our “perfect-self”, and connection to our loved ones – here’s how:
Spring songs already quieting.
- With life experience, wisdom, meditation and practice of self-reflection our desires start subsiding, we view life in a state of simplicity and serenity, accepting what is rather than what can be or hasn’t been
But the ancient source still bubbles forth
- Connecting to the visualization of earths water flowing is the reality that our underlying consciousness (the part of us that is aware when we are thinking, or doing something even though we’re not verbalizing it in our mind) and capacity for enjoying this moment is always flowing, no matter the season, obstructions, limitations.
It’s a mistake my modern friends to wound that heart, by trying to cross the stream.
- There is nowhere to go, no need to always be tense in attaining and doing, to realize happiness and connection – take the time to just be with that which surrounds you right here, right now.
In Zen there is a fundamental simplicity in life for happiness – and that is to realize that our desires, greed, ambition and thoughts of having more and being more than you are now will mislead you. The reality is that we are standing, or sitting, in perfection this very moment – we just have to realize it and get out of our way.
It is stunning how simple it is for us to re-connect with this “perfect-self” of which there are no boundaries, no limitations imposed. With meditation we develop self-awareness, a direct way to reconnect with this “perfect-self” and silence the self-defeating nature we’ve developed.
The more we have our attention pulled away from an awareness of ourselves the more we question that which we already know. The answer to bring our attention back to an awareness of self… Sit!
Tomorrow we will explore how to approach Zen Meditation and Zen techniques to bring awareness into your every day, to easily make this a reality.
This retreat was put together by the Centre of Gravity www.centreofgravity.org. Every Tuesday Michael Stone, a Psychotherapist and the centers founder, teaches yoga and Zen inspired meditation with a unique modern approach. An insightful and experienced teacher, I highly recommend joining the Centre’s Tuesday afternoon sessions.