I went into the city centre today, as much as you can call High Street Auckland City’s centre. I browsed a bookshop for a couple of minutes and saw “The Audacity of Hope.” I didn’t read the book so I can’t comment on it, but it got me thinking about my own process over the past 6 months.
I have been working on eliminating hope from my mind set. That’s such a good phrase mind set. The set of ideas, beliefs which consitute one’s content and structure of identity.
But I hadn’t paid much attention to hope’s opposite – despair – which is equally a projection of what might be into the future. Now it is time to deal with despair. It strikes me that there is hope because there is despair and there is despair because there is hope. Hope is a dangerous ally, it causes misunderstanding of what is. In the context of business, hope takes too many risks as despair misses opportunities.
Hope and despair arise out of attempts to maintain consistency in one’s self image, i.e. identity. That’s why they’re actually the same thing, just with different bodily sensations attached. Hope is happy. Despair is sad.
It reminds me of Shunryu Suzuki’s council: “Not Always So.” We can’t know ourselves in the future, so why project?
Zen is tough. It is effective for many people, but it is really tough.
-Mindfulness in Plain English; Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
One of the tough things about it I think is indeed that constant bringing yourself back to that pure awareness of what you’re doing in the present moment. I find it tough, but hey we keep at it. One of the things I like about the Soto point of view is its focus on the present moment in all its completeness. When sitting, just sit. When taking a crap, just crap.
To take this posture [the lotus posture] is the purpose of our practise. When you have this posture you have the right state of mind, so there is no need to try to attain some special state.
-Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind; Shunryu Suzuki
And I’ve realised recently that in here lies joy. Joy comes from being completely in the present moment. It strikes me that joy is not an experience like happiness or sadness. Experience is a taking in. Joy is an expression of ones full self in the present moment. There is no trying to attain something.
Meditation has been simultaneously easy and tough the past few days. Tough discovering more subtle forms of identity, easy more present. Tough more aware of underlying anxiety, easy more able to name and sit with it. Tough more aware of loss of continuous Zen, easy more aware of loss of continuous Zen.
I liked Thich Nhat Hanh’s idea in the Miracle of Mindfulness that sitting on the mat is not enough you need to practice mindfulness all day long.
Zen is not tough. And there’s no experience of joy.