A Meditator’s Approach To Understanding Life


Published:

In my role as a senior dharma teacher of meditation in the Kwan Um Zen tradition, I sometimes get asked to respond to student questions that come in through the Internet (you can find our “ask a question” feature here). This is a modernization of a long tradition of students corresponding with teachers that goes back thousands of years.

In this case, a Zen student had noticed a special feeling of peacefulness in their meditation practice and wanted to know what to do with it. 

That is an interesting question for a meditator. Because sometimes we chase after a particular type of “feeling.” The thing is, in life, everything comes and goes, even nice feelings. Meanwhile, while we are chasing after these temporary feelings, we miss the opportunity to really pay attention and learn about life as it is (as opposed to as we want it to be). Stuck in this chasing loop, we miss the chance to develop our prajna–our wisdom.

How to use meditation to gain wisdom about life instead of to chase after a particular temporary feeling is the subject of my reply.

Dear Friend.

How are you? Thank you for your question about Zen practice which you submitted to the Kwan Um Zen website. It was forwarded to me to answer. My name is Colin Beavan and I am a senior dharma teacher in our school.

You mentioned that you have a strong feeling of emptiness inside that is like you got rid of a heavy weight. You mention that your thoughts seem far away and that negative emotions are gone quickly.

You say that you don’t know what to do with that experience. Should you just enjoy it and let it go?

All of us have many experiences every day. Sometimes we feel deeply confused and sometimes we feel peaceful. Sometimes we have these experiences for moments and sometimes an experience seems to stick around for weeks.

But what is the nature of these experiences?

If you pay close attention, you will see they come and go. They don’t have a permanent form. In my own practice, I have found that times of my feelings “disappearing quickly” often end abruptly and I fall back to strong feelings again and then that passes too! I may not have to figure out what to do with the experience because the experience doesn’t last!!

But there is something that does not come and go. What is it? Maybe the real question is, what is it that is having this experience? When you are peaceful, what experiences peace? When you are conflicted, what experiences conflict? Holding a deep curiosity about that fundamental nature is the root of our practice.

If you are honest, when you ask “What is experiencing this? What doesn’t know what to do with this experience?” you will come to a place of not knowing–a place before thinking. We call this “Don’t know mind.” This is the point that neither experiences nor doesn’t experience, neither thinks nor doesn’t think. It is the place of not knowing and not judging. Everything here is “just like this.”

So when you are peaceful, where is that thought of peace coming from? When you are not peaceful, where is that thought of not peace coming from? Let either of these questions take you back to not knowing, which is your fundamental nature, before your thinking starts making this and that.

If you return to don’t know over and over again, you will come to understand yourself and when you understand yourself you will understand your true job in this world–the direction of your life no matter what kind of experience you are having in the moment. When you understand your true job and direction, you will best be able to help yourself and all beings (but don’t wait till then to help all beings–start now!!). This is one of the promises of consistent meditation practice.

I hope this helps. Meanwhile, practicing every day is very helpful, even if you can only do 10 or 20 minutes at first. It will grow. Just tend the seed every day. Be consistent. Another thing that is helpful is to find a community of people who are also practicing. Then you can support your practice and they can support yours. Also, you may find a teacher who can help you. You can find Kwan Um Zen Centers here. Or use the Internet to find another Zen center near you.

I hope you find out the truth of your existence which only you can know, fall into harmony with everything and then use that truth and harmony to help yourself, the people around you and the whole world.

Best wishes,

Colin

This article was republished from ColinBeavan.com.

See also:
5 Tips For Beginner Yogis
Expanding Sufi Mysteries Of Breath

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

February 19, 2018

Fittingly for President’s Day, the Moon is in Aries, a sign of leadership. A late morning lunar trine to Mars lifts the spirits of parade goers and marchers alike. It also provides plenty of energy for athletes and exercise buffs…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

February 2018

Spend a cozy winter weekend with colleagues diving into the rich material contained within the Dàodéjīng. While each class builds upon the material covered in the previous...

Cost: $325

Where:
Roots and Wings Yoga and Healing Arts
317 North Main Street
Natick, MA  01760
View map »


Sponsor: Eastern Medicinal Therapies Education Center
Telephone: 617-435-3586
Contact Name: Lauren Paap
Website »

More information

Great readings at a great rate - only $20 for 15 minutes. Join us for a great day with lots of specials too! Our web site is not currently able to take registrations for the psychic fair. Please...

Cost: $20 for a 15 minute reading

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Join us for an afternoon of messages from your loved ones on the other side. As an empath and a healer, I am able to connect with random loved ones on the other side and connect them with the right...

Cost: $30 in advance/$35 day of show

Where:
Harvard Unitarian Universalist Church
9 Ayer Road
On The Common
Harvard, MA  01451
View map »


Sponsor: Wachusett Music Series
Telephone: 978-365-2043
Contact Name: Jean or Denise
Website »

More information

February 18 - 23, 2018 With Rev. Michelle Renee Pelletier, founding director of the Center for Psychic Healing, Harwich, MA.

Where:
Calistoga Spa Hot Springs
Calistoga, CA


Sponsor: Center for Psychic Healing
Telephone: 707-849-7793
Website »

More information

Are you curious about yoga but don't know where to begin? The Intro to Yoga Series is a great place to start your practice. This series will provide a safe, non-competitive and welcoming...

Cost: $90 for series

Where:
YogaLife Institute
6 Chestnut St, Suite A
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Telephone: 603-969-8968
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Qigong and tai chi are 2500+ year old healing arts originating in China. These moving meditations offer unique health benefits that western medicine is...

Cost: $11-$15 per class

Where:
Chelmsford Wellness Center
3 Littleton Road, 2nd Floor
Westford, MA  01886
View map »


Sponsor: Cultivating Qi
Telephone: 978-856-8118
Contact Name: Dave Crocker
Website »

More information

A guided tour in discovering, confirming and verifying your personality, behaviors and habits. A three part series at the Waltham Public Library Monday, February 5 7:15PM Monday, February 12...

Cost: Free

Where:
Waltham Public Library
735 Main Street
Waltham, MA  02451
View map »


Sponsor: Waltham Public Library
Telephone: 781-314-3429
Contact Name: Louise Goldstein
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

February 20 - 22, 2017 Three day training including new techniques for advanced Reiki training, Reiki master training, and Holy Fire II upgrade. Includes discussion, demonstrations, practice...

Cost: $1025 ppd.

Where:
Women of Wisdom
, MA


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Website »

More information

Experience the power of singing gospel music with more than 250 others as part of the Mystic Chorale, led by award-winning director and composer, Jonathan Singleton. Join Mystic as we prepare...

Cost: $105

Where:
First Parish Unitarian
630 Mass Ave.
Arlington , MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Mystic Chorale
Telephone: 781-738-1920
Contact Name: Jai Kaur Annamaria
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Show More...
Show Less...

Qigong and tai chi are 2500+ year old healing arts originating in China. These moving meditations offer unique health benefits that western medicine is integrating into treatment plans. By...

Cost: $12-$17 per class

Where:
Dragonfly Wellness Ceneter
176 Jackson Road
Devens, MA  01434
View map »


Sponsor: Cultivating Qi
Telephone: 978-856-8118
Contact Name: Dave Crocker
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Come by anytime during open shopping hours! Friday, February 23: 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm Saturday, February 24: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Sunday, February 25: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm We are very...

Cost: Free to attend

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

6 Week Series with Sherri Snyder-Roche Start your year with greater awareness. In Kundalini Yoga, we harness the mental, physical, and nervous energies of the body and put them under the...

Cost: $90

Where:
State of Grace Yoga and Wellness Center
104 East Hartford Ave.
Uxbridge, MA  01569
View map »


Telephone: 508-278-2818
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Come by anytime during open shopping hours! Friday, February 23: 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm Saturday, February 24: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Sunday, February 25: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm We are very...

Cost: Free to attend

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Romy Valdez There are few instruments like the Gong that can heal us through its purification properties of sound vibrations. In this energy field, the beginnings of removing all blocks can...

Cost: $30 early bird ($35 at the door)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough shopping center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags