Unearthing creative possibilities: Trish Roque's website, personal blog, & portfolio

Archive for the ‘Buddhism’ Category

Zazen practice & what it’s currently teaching me

It’s been a very long time since I’ve practiced Zazen (sitting meditation) – almost a decade in fact.  I had intended to come back to practice since moving to California in 2000 but intentions and reality sometimes don’t coincide.  That doesn’t matter really.

What’s important is that I’ve been sitting for the last three weeks, 15 minutes every morning and every night before going to bed. Just sitting and counting breaths.  It’s a lot more difficult than it sounds – to try to reach 10, to inhale and exhale and to just focus on “one”, on “two”, on “three”, and that is a bird singing so beautifully and loudly, and what is Sammy barking at?, hmmm, I’m hungry, oh I should be counting – and back to “one”.  It is very rare that I ever reach 10.

It’s only been three weeks but in that time, my journal writings have reflected a person that doesn’t feel so panicked or rushed. I alluded to that feeling in my last post, when letting go of what’s not there just came to me.

The practice of sitting and counting breaths, of focusing on one, on two, on three – that practice reminds me to focus on what’s in front of me – to let go of what’s not there – which is everything else that is not in front of me. That includes the past, the future, and even the present, because really, what is the present?  By the time you sense it, it will already be in the past.

And yesterday, I was struck with another realization:

I need to start doing things with the small “I”, without the ego. Just writing those words, the essence is lost, yet, I don’t know how else to describe it. Replace the big “I” with the small “I” and the task at hand, whether it’s making websites or art, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, becomes about the task and not about me.

These words feel inadequate.

Make art with the little “I”, without the ego, learn with the little “I”, make websites with the little “I”.  It becomes about the work and not about me.  There is something very liberating about that – as though this load has been lifted off my shoulders.

We all have glimpses of what I’m talking about – that feeling of losing yourself in the moment with the task at hand, when hours fly by without notice.  It doesn’t have to be a task – it could be an activity, the runner hitting that high, the artist creating, the musician playing for hours. That is the closest I can come to describing this essential nature.

These words continue to be inadequate and I’m not a good enough wordsmith to describe this well, but let me try again: I’m learning the importance of fully expressing the essential nature of this person, this little “I” that’s me.

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Let go of what’s not there

I’ve started Zazen practice again, medidating 15 minutes every morning for the past 3 weeks or so.  I think it may still be too soon to tell if I’m feeling the effects, however, today during my swim, I heard myself say: let go of what’s not there.

It’s such a simple statement, and maybe even redundant, yet if feels very profound to me.

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Traditional Buddhist Blessing & Healing Chant

Young Siwa & Me Recent Siwa & Me

Siwa & Me, Then (1996) & Now (2008)

Just as the soft rains fill the streams,
pour into the rivers and join together in the oceans,
so may the power of every moment of your goodness
flow forth to awaken and heal all beings,
Those here now, those gone before, those yet to come.

By the power of every moment of your goodness
May your heart’s wishes be soon fulfilled
as completely shining as the bright full moon,
as magically as by a wish-fulfilling gem.

By the power of every moment of your goodness
May all dangers be averted and all disease be gone.
May no obstacle come across your way.
May you enjoy fulfillment and long life.

For all in whose heart dwells respect,
who follow the wisdom and compassion, of the Way,
May your life prosper in the four blessings
of old age, beauty, happiness and strength.

We began Siwa on the vaccine last Thursday, prior to our trip to Tahoe. It may just be wishful thinking on my part, but I swear she is responding positively! The bounce to her step is back, and she’s not lagging as far behind on our walks. Actually, she seems to keep up now! I am hopeful!

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Water is water…

Siwa at Lake Faucherie

(Siwa at Lake Faucherie, foothills of the Sierras, California, August 2007)

From Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Zen master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi:

…the water comes down like a curtain thrown from the top of the mountain. It does not seem to come down swiftly, as you might expect; it seems to come down very slowly because of the distance. And the water does not come down as one stream, but is separated into many tiny streams. From a distance it looks like a curtain. And I thought it must be very difficult for each drop of water to come down from the top of such a high mountain. It takes time, you know, a long time, for the water finally to reach the bottom of the waterfall.

And it seems to me, that our human life may be like this. We have many difficult experiences in our life. But at the same time, I thought, the water was not originally separated, but was one whole river. Only when it is separated does it have some difficulty in falling; after we are separated by birth from this oneness, as the water falling from the waterfall is separated by the wind and rocks, then we have feeling.

You have difficulty because you have feeling, you attach to the feeling you have without knowing just how this kind of feeling is created. When you do not realize that you are one with the river, or one with the universe, you have fear. Whether it is separated into drops or not, water is water.

Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact we have no fear of death anymore, and we have no actual difficulty in our life.

And here’s today’s sketch … Jon said he would sit for me, so I drew him:

Jon reading

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