Sunday, May 27, 2012

Zen of the Earth

*Image is of the St. Croix River, looking towards Wisconsin.

This morning, I gave my first Sunday morning talk at my home sangha, Clouds in Water Zen Center. When I was asked about six weeks ago if I'd consider speaking, it didn't take long for me to answer. The time felt right to step forth and offer something to the community. Of course, I have been heavily involved in other aspects of the sangha, including board leadership for half a decade now. But offering a teaching from what you have learned, however small an offering, is something different. And a humbling experience, if you have right relationship with it.

I chose too focus on the Earth. How the Buddha's story and so many of the teachings are all inclusive, endlessly reminding us to move past our human-centric obsessions. Buddha's awakening experience is entirely located in nature, his enlightenment confirmed and upheld by Earth itself. Modern Buddhism, especially convert practice, tends to de-emphasize the Earth and its creatures. In that way, although we are going against the grain by slowing down, listening deeply, and learning to let go of our numerous attachments, there's also an element of going along with the dominant culture as well. Namely, in echoing that cut off sense when it comes to our intimate relationship with the planet.

You can listen to and download the talk here.

I would like to add a few points that came out during the discussion following the talk. Multiple people spoke of their relationship to the media, and how important it has been for them to reduce or watch their intake of news. That sometimes, adding more stories about the awfulness present in the world is basically poisoning yourself. Creating an internal flood of overwhelm that destroys any ability to make changes and act beneficially.

Another issue that came up was how to practice meditation outside. One member said she sometimes gets distracted when sitting outside. I offered that it's always good to experiment with different approaches. Our head teacher suggested she try to open all of her sense gates. To just experience taking in everything through her eyes, ears, nose, etc. And I added that she could focus on one at a time, spending 5 minutes fully listening, and then moving on to another sense.

And finally, I gave some more information about the Whealthy Human Village Project, which I wrote about in this post.

May you enjoy the rest of this fine Sunday!


kel bookbird said...

this is such good news. You have long been a teacher to me via your blog - I am glad you are travelling that path! I will have a listen!!

Nathan said...

Thank you :)