I gave a talk recently at Fountain City Meditation about the baggage we carry in our lives and about learning to see things more clearly.
You can listen to that talk here. I think it’s really good:
With Thoughts Clear, Sitting Silently | Scharpening the Mind
And I wanted to write something on the same subject.
“You must purify, cure, grind down, or brush away all the tendencies you have fabricated into apparent habits. Then you can reside in the clear circle of brightness.” -Honghzi
We’re trying to get better. That’s what this path is about. Trying to get better. Trying to be more mindful, to see things more clearly, to pay attention, to move through the world in a way that’s less harmful. That’s what all of this is about.
In the quote above Honghzi is talking about working with our bad habits, about improving ourselves and overcoming some of the things that are stopping us from realizing our potential. This is very important.
What are the things that are holding us back?
That old cliché is true. We are our own worst enemies. We are holding ourselves back more than anything else most of the time. We have habits and tendencies that aren’t helpful. We have baggage that we’re carrying around and we sometimes think that we are our baggage. But we’re not.
You’re not an angry person. You’re a person experiencing anger. You’re not a helpless person, you’re a person that is struggling to feel hopeful. You’re not broken, or at least no more broken than anyone else.
We’re working on improving ourselves and that seems really intimidating. Often we think we can’t do it. We’re trying to become more mindful and aware, but how can we when we feel so scattered and lost all the time?
So, with our practice, what we want to do is see if we can put down our baggage for a few minutes and just see what happens. When we train in this way, when we practice seeing the world without all our baggage and neuroses, then something special can happen for us. We can start seeing the world more clearly all the time.
Seeing things clearly is how we make good choices.
“With thoughts clear, sitting silently, wander into the circle of wonder. This is how you must penetrate and study.” -Hongzhi
That’s what we’re doing. The world is full of wonder. Another aspect of what we’re doing here is learning to pay attention. The world is an amazing place, but we’re missing it all the time because we’re so distracted. With our practice we can learn how to tune out those distractions and experience the world in a more authentic way.
*quotes are taken from “Cultivating the Empty Field, The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi” by Taigen Dan Leighton, which you can get here:
Cultivating the Empty Field | amazon
The Story of Honghzi | Patheos
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