Posts Tagged With: Zen

The Daily OM for January 28th – Who Am I

Who Am I
The Heart of Unknowing

by Madisyn Taylor

The question of who we are is a seed that can bear much fruit if given the chance to unfold.

At some point in our lives, or perhaps at many points in our lives, we ask the question, “Who am I? At times like these, we are looking beyond the obvious, beyond our names and the names of the cities and states we came from, into the layers beneath our surface identities. We may feel the need for a deeper sense of purpose in our lives, or we may be ready to accommodate a more complex understanding of the situation in which we find ourselves. Whatever the case, the question of who we are is a seed that can bear much fruit.

It can send us on an exploration of our ancestry, or the past lives of our soul. It can call us to take up journaling in order to discover that voice deep within us that seems to know the answers to a multitude of questions. It can draw our attention so deeply inward that we find the spark of spirit that connects us to every living thing in the universe. One Hindu tradition counsels its practitioners to ask the question over and over, using it as a mantra to lead them inevitably into the heart of the divine.

While there are people who seem to come into the world knowing who they are and why they are here, for the most part the human journey appears to be very much about asking this question and allowing its answers to guide us on our paths. So when we find ourselves in the heart of unknowing, we can have faith that we are in a very human place, as well as a very divine one. “Who am I? is a timeless mantra, a Zen koan ultimately designed to lead us home, into the part of our minds that finally lets go of questions and answers and finds instead the ability to simply be.

The Daily OM

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Let’s Talk Witch – Even Witches Need To Know How to Meditate

Witchy Comments & Graphics
Let’s Talk Witch – How To Meditate

To begin, sit in a darkened room (not pitch dark, but dim lights). Sit still, sit quiet, for 10 minutes. No music, no talking, no tapping your fingers, no jiggling your foot, no moving your head or cracking your neck or looking around. It’s harder than you think. If you don’t make it through the first time, try again the next day (don’t rush it or you’ll just get really mad at yourself – this isn’t a speed competition!) and keep trying until you can sit still and quiet for 10 minutes. You can think about anything you want, the point is to be physically still, and not have any external stimuli (no TV, no music, no whatever). This teaches you to have a quiet body. This also teaches you about time, because it’s hard to know how long 10 minutes is. Your eyes can be opened or closed, it doesn’t matter (and blinking isn’t counted as moving, so you can blink all you want).

Once you are able to sit still for 10 minutes, then try sitting for 10 minutes and think only about white things. If you start to think about something that isn’t white, stop yourself, and start thinking about white things again. Here’s a list of words to help you get started:

Snow, polar bears, cotton, vanilla pudding, paper, light bulbs, chicken, arctic hare, white wolf, beluga whale, dove, cream, soap, flower, milk, flour, rice, refrigerator, tooth, swan, snowy owl, sand, stones, clouds

Once you have done it, do it twice more, on different days. Ten minutes thinking about things that are white. It will teach you how to concentrate and how to have a quiet mind. If you think about white things and you start to move, try again. If you are still, but you think about what that jerk on the bus said to you today, try again. Each time you try, take at least a one day break in between your tries. You will learn concentration and discipline, both very important for meditation. Don’t rush it, this isn’t a contest!

When you are comfortable with spending 10 quiet, still, minutes thinking about things that are white, try 10 minutes thinking about things that are natural, like animals, grass, trees, sky, and so on. Anything in the natural world, made naturally and not altered by human hands. Remember to keep still, and keep quiet. Don’t say the things out loud, just think them in your head.

If your mind wanders, just pull it back. So if you are thinking about animals, and you think about your cat, and your cat’s fur, and your cat’s meow, and the neighbourhood dog that chases your cat, that is fine. If you then think about the neighbourhood dog that barks, and your stupid neighbour who lets the dog bark at night and it wakes you up and then you get a bad sleep and you have an important meeting tomorrow and… now you have let your mind wander. Immediately think of another natural thing, and refocus yourself.

Then, practice and practice and practice until thinking about natural things is really really easy, and being still is really really easy. Think about different things each time – maybe think about animals one time, and then flowers the next time.

I recommend thinking about natural things because it is a great way to connect to the Goddess. So that when you want to meditate on the goddess Diana, for example, you can concentrate on things that are important to Her: trees, a cool stream, a deer, a dog and so on, without getting off track.

Give it a try, it will take some time to get good, but it will be worth every minute you spend trying. It will let you connect better with the Goddess, and that will increase the power of your spells and magick.

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Daily OM for December 3rd – Keeping Our Minds Supple

Keeping Our Minds Supple
Questioning Everything

by Madisyn Taylor

Being open-minded means that we are willing to question everything, including those things we take for granted.

A lot of people feel threatened if they feel they are being asked to question their cherished beliefs or their perception of reality. Yet questioning is what keeps our minds supple and strong. Simply settling on one way of seeing things and refusing to be open to other possibilities makes the mind rigid and generally creates a restrictive and uncomfortable atmosphere. We all know someone who refuses to budge on one or more issues, and we may have our own sacred cows that could use a little prodding. Being open-minded means that we are willing to question everything, including those things we take for granted.

A willingness to question everything, even things we are sure we are right about, can shake us out of complacency and reinvigorate our minds, opening us up to understanding people and perspectives that were alien to us before. This alone is good reason to remain inquisitive, no matter how much experience we have or how old we get. In the Zen tradition, this willingness to question is known as beginner’s mind, and it has a way of generating possibilities we couldn’t have seen from the point of view of knowing something with certainty. The willingness to question everything doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t believe in anything at all, and it doesn’t mean we have to question every single thing in the world every minute of the day. It just means that we are humble enough to acknowledge how little we actually know about the mysterious universe we call home.

Nearly every revolutionary change in the history of human progress came about because someone questioned some time-honored belief or tradition and in doing so revealed a new truth, a new way of doing things, or a new standard for ethical and moral behavior. Just so, a commitment to staying open and inquisitive in our own individual lives can lead us to new personal revolutions and truths, truths that we will hopefully, for the sake of our growth, remain open to questioning.

The Daily OM

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Daily OM for August 19th – Savoring Ceremony

Savoring Ceremony
Tea Rituals

by Madisyn Taylor

 

Tea time with friends can be turned into ceremony simply by the intention in which you prepare your tea.

 

Coffee may be the power beverage that gets us revved up in the morning and fuels us when we’re burning the midnight oil, but tea is the drink we turn to when we want to relax and be refreshed at the same time. Black, green, white, herbal, hot, or ice cold, tea is more than a soothing beverage. It can be a ritual, a cultural experience, and even a spiritual practice.

The reverence for tea has inspired ceremony in many cultures. From the spirituality of Chanoyu, the Japanese way of preparing and serving tea, to the sharing of Maté in Latin America, tea rituals are for celebration, ceremony, and relationship bonding. In China, tea rituals are part of many wedding ceremonies with the bride and groom serving their elder relatives in a show of respect and gratitude. The Chinese art of drinking and serving tea has been a source of inspiration for poetry and song. The Russian custom of chaepitie has inspired a unique style of teapots, caddies, teacups, and cozies. The samovar, a special brewing device, has become the symbol of the Russian tea ceremony and an object of art in its own right. Iced tea, popular in the U.S., as well as other parts of the world, is a modern ritual bringing cool relief on a sweltering summer day.

You can turn your own tea time with a friend into a simple ceremony by preparing your tea with the intention of offering nourishment and good wishes to the other person. When you are seated together, rather than drinking your tea right away, look at one another and express your gratitude and appreciation for your friendship. When you pour the tea, again intend it as an offering. Drink your tea slowly, savoring its flavor and aroma. Let its warmth or its coolness soothe your body. When you are finished drinking your tea, thank your friend for taking part in this nourishing ritual with you. Whether savored in the presence of another or tasted alone, the custom of drinking tea provides a soothing pause in our hectic world. Drinking tea can be a daily ritual that brings inner calm and clarity to the body, mind, and soul.

Daily OM

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Your Daily Zen Meditation for February 6th


New Age Comments & Graphics

Your Daily Zen Meditation for February 6th

The realm of enlightenment of all the Buddhas and

patriarchs is the same as that of you monks.  If you

have a head full of Buddhas and patriarchs, how will

you ever get to see what is your own?

But if you see what is your own, at that time there

cannot be any Buddhas, patriarchs, other people or

dharma established…The patriarch is not another

person separate from yourself, and the Buddha is

miraculous, pure awakening.

- Hongzhi

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Cleanse Your Mind

Cleanse Your Mind

This spell is used to get rid of headaches and stress.

Items You Need:

Wand

Pentacle

Pillow

 

The Spell:

Unplug the phone, lock the doors and find a quiet place in the house to perform this spell. Tie the pentacle around your neck and sit with a pillow, close your eyes and take three deep breaths then with your eyes still closed, chant the following:

“Air I am,

Fire I am

Water, Earth

and Spirit I am.

Return to me.

Restore me.

So Mote It Be.”

Now touch the middle of your pentacle with your wand and hold it there until you feel the headache gone or the stress relieved.

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Daily Zen Meditation for Friday, June 15th

Daily Zen Meditation for June 15

“One who speaks does not know; one know knows does not speak.”
Thus I have been instructed by the Old Master. If you tell me the Old Master was one who knew,
I ask,
Why did he write five thousand words to explain it?

- Po Chu-I (772-846)

DailyZen

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The DailyZen Journal for the Month of April – Sitting Meditation

 

On The Way 

Sitting Meditation

Foyan (1067-1120)

 

 

Sitting Meditation

The light of mind is reflected in emptiness;

Its substance is void of relative and absolute.

Golden waves all around,

Zen is constant, in action or stillness.

Thoughts arise, thoughts disappear;

Don’t try to shut them off.

Let them flow spontaneously—

What has ever arisen and vanished?

When arising and vanishing quiet down,

There appears the great Zen master;

Sitting, reclining, walking around,

There’s never an interruption.

When meditating, why not sit?

When sitting, why not meditate?

Only when you have understood this way

Is it called sitting meditation.

Who is it that sits? What is meditation?

To try to seat it is using Buddha

To look for Buddha.

Buddha need not be sought;

Seeking takes you further away.

In sitting you do not look at yourself;

Meditation is not an external art.

At first, the mind is noisy and unruly;

There is still no choice but to shift it back.

That is why there are many methods

To teach it quiet observation.

When you sit up and gather your spirit,

At first it scatters helter-skelter;

Over a period of time, eventually it calms down,

Opening and freeing the six senses.

When the six senses rest a bit,

Discrimination occurs therein.

As soon as discrimination occurs,

It seems to produce arising and vanishing.

The transformations of arising and vanishing

Come from manifestations of one’s own mind.

Put your own mind to use to look back once:

Once you’ve returned, no need to do it again;

You wear a halo of light on your head.

The spiritual flames leap and shine,

Unobstructed in any state of mind,

All-inclusive, all-pervasive;

Birth and death forever cease.

A single grain of restorative elixir

Turns gold into liquid;

Acquired pollution of body and mind

Have no way to get through.

Confusion and enlightenment

Are temporarily explained;

Stop discussing opposition and accord.

When I think carefully of olden days

When I sat coolly seeking,

Though it’s nothing different,

It was quite a mess.

You can turn from ordinary mortal to sage

In an instant, but no one believes.

All over the earth is unclarity;

Best be very careful.

If it happens you do not know,

Then sit up straight and think;

One day you’ll bump into it.

This I humbly hope.

 

Seeing and Doing

Many are those who have seen but can do nothing about it. Once you have seen, why can’t you do anything about it? Just because of not discerning; that is why you are helpless. If you see and discern, then you can do something about it.

Nevertheless, if you expect to understand as soon as you are inspired to study Zen, well, who wouldn’t like that? It’s just that you have no way in, and you cannot force understanding. Failing to mesh with it in every situation, missing the connection at every point, you cannot get it by exertion of force.

Whatever you are doing, twenty-four hours a day, in all your various activities, there is something that transcends the Buddhas and Zen masters; but as soon as you want to understand it, it’s not there. As soon as you try to gather your attention on it, you have already turned away from it. That is why I say you see but cannot do anything about it.

Does this mean that you will realize it if you do not aim the mind and do not develop intellectual understanding? Far from it—you will fail even more seriously to realize it. Even understanding does not get it, much less not understanding!

If you are spiritually sharp, you can open your eyes and see as soon as you hear me tell you about this. Have not people of immeasurable greatness said this truth is not comprehensible by thought, and that it is where knowledge does not reach? Were it not like this, how could it be called an enlightened truth? Nowadays, however, people just present interpretations and views, making up rationalizations; they have never learned to be thus, and have never reached this state.

If people with potential for enlightenment are willing to see in this way, they must investigate most deeply and examine most closely; all of a sudden they will gain mastery of it and have no further doubt. The reason you do not understand is just because you are taken away by random thoughts twenty-four hours a day. Since you want to learn business, you fall in love with things you see and fondly pursue things you read; over time, you get continuously involved. How can you manage to work on enlightenment then?

Whenever you seek Zen, furthermore, your mind ground must be even and straight, and your mind and speech must be in accord. Since your mind and speech are straightforward, your states are thus consistent from start to finish, without any petty details.

Do not say, “I understand! I have attained mastery!” If you have attained mastery, then why are you going around asking other people questions? As soon as you say you understand Zen, people watch whatever you do and whatever you say, wondering why you said this or that. If you claim to understand Zen, moreover, this is actually a contention of ignorance. What about the saying that one should “silently shine, hiding one’s enlightenment?” What about “concealing one’s name and covering one’s tracks?” What about “the path is not different from the human mind?”

Each of you should individually reduce entanglements and not talk about judgments of right and wrong. All of your activities everywhere transcend Buddhas and Masters, the water buffalo at the foot of the mountain is imbued with Buddhism; but as soon as you try to search, it’s not there. Why do you not discern this?

The Marrow of Sages

My livelihood is the marrow of all the sages; there is not a moment when I am not explaining it to you, but you are unwilling to take it up. So it turns out, on the contrary, to be my deception. But look here—where is it that I am not explaining it to you?

Professional Zennists say I do not teach people to think; I do not teach people to understand; I do not teach people to discuss stories; I do not cite past and present examples. They suppose we are idling away the time here, and think that if they had spent the time elsewhere they would have understood a few model case stories and heard some writings. If you want to discuss stories, cite past and present, then please go somewhere else; here I have only one-flavor Zen, which I therefore call the marrow of all sages.

Here you must understand each point clearly. Have you not read how the teacher Changsha one day turned around and saw the icon of wisdom, whereupon he suddenly realized the ultimate and said, “Turning around I suddenly see the original body. The original body is not a perception or a reality.”

Foyan (1067-1120)

Excerpted from Instant Zen-Waking up in the Present trans by Thomas Cleary 1994

 

Dailyzen

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