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

August 19, 2017

The weekend officially begins under an excellent post-midnight omen, the Cancer Moon’s cheerful conjunction with Venus. By daybreak the sweetness is diminished as a lunar square to Uranus is felt. Nerves grow edgy. Friendships can reflect the strain…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

August 2017

This show offers an opportunity to purchase natural mineral and gem crystals to enhance your healing, meditation, and experiential activities.  200 retail and wholesale vendors from across the...

Cost: Adults $6, Parking $5

Where:
Eastern States Exposition
Better Living Center
1305 Memorial Dr
West Springfield, MA  01089
View map »


Sponsor: LLD Productions, Inc.
Telephone: 505-867-0425
Contact Name: Regina Aumente
Website »

More information

Barbara Fe is back for another amazing workshop! There is no need to have attended her previous classes to join in for this one - just a willingness to explore your own intuitive abilities!...

Cost: $25

Where:
The Studio at One Earth
191 Emery Mills Road
Shapleigh, ME  04076
View map »


Sponsor: The Studio at One Earth
Telephone: 207-636-2500
Contact Name: The Studio at One Earth
Website »

More information

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


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

More information

Sunday Reiki treatments with Reiki master and practitioner Linda Simons in Brookline, MA. Start your week off on a more balanced note with a Reiki treatment on a Sunday afternoon. Please join me...

Cost: Sliding Scale $20-$40

Where:
233 Harvard Street
Suite 36
Brookline, MA  02446
View map »


Telephone: 617-304-2205
Contact Name: LInda Simons
Website »

More information

Join us in the Northeast Reiki Center classroom in Framingham for a Reiki Circle in the Usui Reiki System of Natural Healing. We are a gathering of Reiki practitioners and others interested in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

Guided loving kindness meditation every Sunday at HeartSong Spiritual Wellness. No charge to attend. Donations are appreciated to help support this non-profit wellness center. Read more:...

Cost: Free

Where:
HeartSong Spiritual Wellness
23 Pine Street
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Sponsor: HeartSong
Contact Name: Jacki Rose
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


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

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


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

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


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

More information

We're so excited to have Nicki LeMarbre bringing this beautiful sound healing meditation to us. She will also have some crystal and jewelry at the event for sale as well. Nicki is offering...

Cost: Preregistration online $44, At the door $49

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd
Unit A
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey Smith
Website »

More information

August 16 - 19, 2017 Healing Trauma and Installing Boundaries. With Judith Swack, PhD. Learn how to heal PTSD. HBLU™ integrates the best of biomedical science, psychology, spirituality,...

Where:
56 Pickering Street
Needham, MA
View map »


Sponsor: HBLU™, Inc.
Telephone: (781) 444-6940
Website »

More information

Qigong is an amazing practice used to prevent and heal disease. Qigong is a series of flowing and repeated movements, stretches and breathing exercises. Qigong movements are gentle and easy to...

Cost: $12

Where:
The Arlington Center
369 Mass Ave
Arlington, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Maryellen LaBelle
Telephone: 781-710-4325
Contact Name: Maryellen LaBelle
Website »

More information

Weekly yoga classes with Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN of Harmony Way on Wednesdays at 12:15 PM and Fridays at 9:30 AM at the Wilbraham Senior Center. Class welcomes all ages and uses a...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN
Website »

More information

MBSR: Tools for Managing Stress and Enhancing Wellbeing Dates: Wednesday Evenings July 12, 19, 25 August 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 Retreat: Saturday, August 26, 2017 9:30-4:30 PM Join us for a...

Cost: $300 - $650

Where:
Cambridge Health Alliance
26 Central Street
Somerville, MA  02143
View map »


Sponsor: Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
Telephone: 617-591-6132
Contact Name: Bridget Kiley
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


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

More information

August 17 - 20, 2017 The Berkshires is composed of 30 unique towns and two cities bordering Vermont, New York, and Connecticut and is equidistant from Boston and New York City. It is here...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
430 East Street
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Sponsor: Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Learn Reiki — revitalizing self-care and healing in the palm of your hands. Facilitated by Lou Orsan, Reiki Shihan (master teacher) This one-day class covers the basic principles...

Cost: $125

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


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

More information

Weekly yoga classes with Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN of Harmony Way on Wednesdays at 12:15 PM and Fridays at 9:30 AM at the Wilbraham Senior Center. Class welcomes all ages and uses a...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN
Website »

More information

Come unwind at the end of the week with your Anastasia's Health Happenings tribe! Fridays in Amesbury… Kick start your spiritual journey by supporting others on their spiritual...

Cost: $5 suggested donation

Where:
Anastasia’s Health Happenings
110 Haverhill Rd
Bldg. C, Suite 342
Amesbury, MA  01913
View map »


Sponsor: Anastasia’s Health Happenings
Telephone: 978-621-8435
Contact Name: Patti Anastasia
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join Cayce Lannon of Maine Yoga Kids for her first of two kid-focused yoga workshops here at The Studio at One Earth! Bring the whole gang for some yoga fun! We’ll...

Cost: $20.00 per family (up to four people), extra family members $5 per person

Where:
The Studio at One Earth
191 Emery Mills Road
Shapleigh, ME  04076
View map »


Sponsor: The Studio at One Earth
Telephone: 207-636-2500
Website »

More information

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


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

More information

Join Cayce Lannon of Maine Yoga Kids for a great family yoga experience! This will be the second workshop of the day.  Explore the restful side of yoga in this fun and...

Cost: $20 per family (up to four people), extra family members $5 per person

Where:
The Studio at One Earth
191 Emery Mills Road
Shapleigh, ME  04076
View map »


Sponsor: The Studio at One Earth
Telephone: 207-636-2500
Contact Name: The Studio at One Earth
Website »

More information

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