Living consciously with Zen in your life is very much about living moment-to-moment in awareness and simply being true to your own nature. This Way of Zen enriches your life and helps you discover your full potential: your life becomes deeper and fuller.
Here are 3 simple steps along the Way:
Live with Zen Values
In living consciously with Zen, we live with the values of Purity, Tranquility, Harmony and Peace.
Immerse yourself in all your actions, with these values, and your life becomes an art. Treating your life as a valuable art becomes your way of living life consciously.
We do this with wholeheartedness in Zen. And the first step comes from within, wholeheartedness toward yourself. In fully accepting yourself here and now, you discover your true self. In Zen, the true self is at One with the Universe.
You value your true self and your true nature: giving yourself first Purity, Tranquility, Harmony and Peace wherever you can. Then you can direct what you value wholeheartedly to the rest of your life: relationships, work, activities, home. And, naturally, then you can experience what Master Lin-Chi meant when he said: “Nothing is missing.”
Lin-chi (d.866) realized that the everyday, sincere and ordinary human being lacks absolutely nothing and he helped generations of Zen practitioners discover that the Way of Zen means being true to your own nature.
The only goal is harmonising with the Whole.
Add Contemplation to Your Life
Zen Masters disagree . . . certain masters at different times in the evolution of zen have taught that sitting in a stiff meditation posture is too painful to the body and for a true experience of the nature of Zen in one’s life, contemplation and living in the present are all.
A very simple way of living consciously with Zen, moment by moment, is to start your day contemplating the 4 Noble Truths:
May all beings be happy
May all beings know joy
May all beings be free from suffering
May all beings know peace
Then you can extend your time in contemplation on a daily basis, maybe with a walk outside: feel the ground under your feet and the air on your skin, breathe consciously and experience aromas, warmth from the sun, the cool breeze. Experience and be in the moment.
The only goal is living with a pure and magnanimous heart.
Bring the Sacred into the Day
For me as a teacher sitting Zazen is the essence of living consciously, living daily in Zen.
Zazen is sitting Meditation. Za means “to sit,” and Zen is tranquility. In Chinese, the character Za is a picture of two people sitting on the earth. This means we have to sit Zazen with others – not just with other people, but with all beings. You might be on your own when you actually sit, but you are not alone in Zazen . . . . To sit Zazen, you open yourself to the Universe. You are sitting in harmony with humanity, the Whole.
In essence the principles of zazen are simple. We learn the posture, and the breathing and we practice in silence with a regular routine. So, there are three basic points to zazen: first is harmonizing the body; second is harmonizing the mind; third is harmonizing the breath.
You’ll probably find when you first practice that your mind is busy – and you’ve been told that sitting Zazen makes your mind calm – so forget any expectations you have about zazen and just sit.
In practice, though not in theory, if you expect something from your zazen even slightly, you have created two goals: Zazen and the purpose of Zazen.
In fact, you are learning the nature of your own mind.
Meditation enriches your inner spirit and grounds you firmly in a conscious way of seeing and living life, guiding you to your potential . . . as you discover that emptiness has great potential.
There is no goal . . . only being.
Susan’s note: this is a great little book containing history, stories, practices etc: Simple Zen: A Guide to Living Moment by Moment: C. Alexander Simpkins PH.D and Annellen Simpkins PH.D; Newleaf 1999.
Susan Ni Rahilly is Founder of www.suzenyoga.com: spirituality, understanding, Zen, energy and nutrition through dedication to Yoga practice.