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

January 19, 2020

This morning’s lunar sextile to pragmatic Saturn rouses many souls into “instant on” mode. Priorities are clear. Get organized. Sort through papers and clutter, repurpose some items, recycle and eliminate others. As the day progresses, practical matters…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

January 2020

We welcome back, Marcia Shaw of Goshen as she shares the beautiful energies of her Core Harmonizer. This portable unit, developed by Ross Newkirk (a former Chester resident), creates a blissful...

Cost: Suggested Donation $10

Where:
Center for Inner Wellness
26B Main Street
Chester, MA  01011
View map »


Sponsor: Center for Inner Wellness
Telephone: 413-315-1133
Contact Name: Maureen Suriner
Website »

More information

In level I, we learned how our ancestor's beliefs, thoughts, feelings, emotions, unresolved issues and even gifts are passed down energetically through our DNA. In this advanced course, we will...

Cost: $85

Where:
The Dragonfly Shop
Keene, NH


Sponsor: Dragonfly Shop
Telephone: (603) 354-3471
Contact Name: Cynthia
Website »

More information

We continue the practice of intuitive self expression using the vehicle of collage work. We will be guided by the principles of Soul Collage and led by Amy Shuman to create collage cards....

Cost: Suggested Donation $10

Where:
Center for Inner Wellness
26 Main Street
Chester, MA  01011
View map »


Sponsor: Center for Inner Wellness
Telephone: 413-315-1133
Contact Name: Maureen Suriner
Website »

More information

I'm certain you've heard the saying, "Why worry when you can pray." And I am more certain that you have never heard anyone say, "Why worry when you can Tachyonize!" Yet,...

Cost: Free (preregistration is required)

Where:
The Sanctuary for Celestial Empowerment
10 Grassmere Avenue
Suite #300
West Hartford, CT  06110
View map »


Sponsor: Psychotherapy Healing Services, LLC
Telephone: 860-798-6176
Contact Name: Celeste E. Mattingly, LCSW
Website »

More information

Join us for some pampering time to refresh and renew you! After all the hustle, bustle and holiday indulging come and detox and refresh body and soul! Get your new year readings chakra...

Cost: $60: 3 pack service special; $25: single service

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
Website »

More information

How wi-fi, smart meters, cell antennas and 5g present risks to our health, privacy, security and the planet—and available solutions. Public forum with leading national experts on:...

Cost: Free

Where:
Willard School
185 Powder Mill Rd
Concord, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The EMR Network, Wireless Education, and the National Institute for Science, Law & Public Policy

More information

Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Mindfulness meditation as a secular practice is enjoying its moment in the sun. Given the clamor for more mindfulness as a performance improvement tool, it behooves us to remember and emphasize the...

Cost: Suggested donation for general attendance is $15. CE credits available for $30.

Where:
CHA Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
1035 Cambridge Street
Suite 21A
Cambridge, MA  02141
View map »


Sponsor: Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy
Website »

More information

Discover Beauty. Discover Goodness. Discover Yourself. Your soul’s gifts are waiting. Breathe. Find stillness. The spark you need to ignite your life is here, within. Max Meditation...

Cost: $15

Where:
Modern Mystery School Boston
132 Charles St
3rd Floor
Auburndale, MA  02466
View map »


Sponsor: Modern Mystery School Boston
Telephone: 617-694-0994
Contact Name: Jordan Bain
Website »

More information

2nd and 4th Monday of every month This psychic message circle is for anyone wishing to raise their connection using their psychic centers known as the “clairs.” Learn how to use...

Cost: $20

Where:
Messages From Heaven Healing and Learning Center
646 Central Street
Suite 3
Leominster, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Acupuncture is a part of ancient Chinese medicine that has been used in this country for decades. Hear from Brenda Scott, LAc, a Waltham-based acupuncturist to learn what acupuncture can be used to...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Waltham Public Library
Telephone: 781-314-3441
Contact Name: Debora Hoffman
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Do you have questions related to divorce and asset division, retirement accounts or the QDRO process? About this event: Please join us for an evening dedicated to one of the most important...

Cost: Free

Where:
Skylark Law & Mediation, PC
9 Main Street
Southborough, MA  01772
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

World famous seminars (www.understandingofmusic.com) turns beginners into musicians, revitalizes and inspires even pro musicians.

Where:
Sheraton 4 Points
Revere, MA


Telephone: (781) 599-1476
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

We all agree that we are supposed to eat a healthy diet, but with all of the conflicting information and fad diets out there, it can be hard to even know what that is. In this class we will talk...

Cost: $20

Where:
Open Circle Acupuncture & Healing
411 West Main Street, Suite 2R (rear of building)
Northborough, MA  01532
View map »


Sponsor: Open Circle Acupuncture & Healing
Telephone: 508-393-1212
Contact Name: Kim Flaherty
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Saturday January 18th, 2020 from 10:30-4pm and Sunday January 19th, 2020 from 10:30-4pm In Reiki Master Level you will learn the master symbols, receive the master level attunement and learn how...

Cost: $295 for new students, $195 for the refresher option

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

Welcome to 2020 and a new energy decade. 2020 ushers in the Age of Aquarius – a time of our collective awakening to higher consciousness. Simply put, our systems are being upgraded. Time to...

Cost: $60

Where:
Private Office
6 Royal Crest Drive
#11
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Sponsor: Diana Harris
Contact Name: Diana Harris
Website »

More information

This is a class that will teach you how to make your own wire-wrapped gemstone pendant! Don’t be discouraged—it is simpler than you think, and you’ll have great fun in crafting...

Cost: Reg includes supplies $40 per person or $35 more than one

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
Website »

More information

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