Posts Tagged ‘alan watts’

During this period of mandatory confinement, when  our normal activities have been curtailed and our public spaces have fallen silent, commentators in the media have suggested numerous ways to fill the void: movies we might watch, books we might read, things we might make or do. Some of those suggestions have been helpful. But the reduction of sound and activity in our external environment might also prompt us to consult its inner counterpart: the silent, abiding dimension of our minds, which often goes undetected and unacknowledged. A well-spring of intuitive knowledge, it is also a source of compassionate wisdom.

In Buddhist teachings this dimension is known by various names. In the Theravadan tradition, it is sometimes called “natural awareness,” or, more lyrically, “the one who knows.” Shunryu Suzuki Roshi called it “Big Mind” (as distinguished from ordinary, voluble, ego-centered mind). More obliquely, an old Zen koan refers to it as “the one who is not busy.” Thich Nhat Hanh calls it “the mind of non-discrimination,” the act of discriminating being the busywork of ordinary mind. And Zoketsu Norman Fischer Roshi has called it “the silent mind,” the term I prefer and have enlisted here. (more…)

Read Full Post »

91. In the waiting room

Waiting room in the Eye, Ear, Nose, & Throat Hospital, New Orleans, 1907

Imagine, if you will, that you have just arrived at your local hospital for a routine test. Anticipating a wait, you have brought a book. After checking in at the reception desk, you seat yourself in a plastic chair and open your book.

Very soon, however, you discover that you are unable to concentrate, because you are being bombarded by the sounds of daytime TV. Muzak you could handle, but not the dialogue of a soap opera, which is keeping you from reading the words on the page. You can’t enjoy your book, but you can’t leave either. For a while you contain your frustration, but when it becomes intolerable, you go to the reception desk to complain. There you learn that the hospital keeps the TV on because most patients want it on. A survey indicated as much. So you return to your seat, humbled and disgruntled. (more…)

Read Full Post »