zen and mindfulness: bowing

Mindfulness

This is the eighth in a series of topics from the seminal book on Zen: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. I’m going chapter by chapter and offering my thoughts on the subject Suzuki addresses. You should definitely check out Suzuki’s book. It has changed many lives.

To get the most out of a mindfulness practice requires real humility. This is an aspect of the practice that can be very difficult for me. I’m very curious and quite stubborn when it comes to ideas I don’t understand. I have a very hard time having faith in something I harbor doubts about. Perhaps you are the same.

This is in some ways my greatest mind weed. I think there is another aspect of it, though, that is difficult for everyone.

The Romantics of the late 18th and early 19th century were obsessed with the idea of the sublime. The sublime was equal parts scary and awe inspiring. Here is a link to my favorite painting, The Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog. He is experiencing the sublime.

A common way to explain it to people now is to contemplate the size of the universe. You are one person among 7 billion people on a small planet around a small star in a small solar system that is part of a galaxy that is a speck among all the galaxies of the universe. How insignificant!

On the other hand, think of the confluence of circumstances, from the big bang to your conception, that had to come together for you to be born. Never mind the improbabilities of your life!

This is all part of a system. You are part of a system, and when you die it will be neither good nor bad. It will be a part of the system like any other.

I am still afraid to die and I think I will likely be afraid to die for a long time. I think most of us are. Perhaps afraid isn’t the right word. I just don’t want to die. I like being alive.

I have a hard time with the idea that when I die it will be neither good nor bad. It will simply be a part of the system. That may be true for the system, but it’s lights out for me!

This is humility, this giving up. It’s my biggest mind weed to this point. What about you?

Related posts:

  1. zen and mindfulness: breathing
  2. zen and mindfulness: control
  3. zen and mindfulness: mind waves
  4. zen and mindfulness: the marrow
  5. zen and mindfulness: no dualism
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