Posts Tagged ‘reb anderson’

Mary Oliver

“Attention,” wrote the poet Mary Oliver (1935-2019), “is the beginning of devotion.”

Oliver’s bold assertion appears at the end of her lyrical essay “Upstream,” the title essay in her 2016 collection. In the preceding paragraph, she implores her readers to introduce children to the sensuous delights of the natural world:

Teach the children. . . . Show them the daisies and the pale hepatica. Teach them the taste of sassafras and wintergreen. The lives of the blue sailors, mallow, sunbursts, the moccasin flowers. And the frisky ones—inkberry, lamb’s quarters, blueberries. And the aromatic ones—rosemary, oregano. Give them peppermint to put in their pockets as they go to school. Give them the fields and the woods and the possibility of the world salvaged from the lords of profit.

Thus instructed, children may “learn to love this green space they live in.” But they must first learn to pay attention. (more…)

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Peace Pagoda, Providence Zen Center

To live in a place is one thing, to inhabit it another. The word inhabit derives from the Latin inhabitare, which originally meant to dwell. “They shall build houses,” prophesied Isaiah, “and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them” (Isaiah 65:21). To eat the fruit of your vineyards, you cannot be flitting from one locality to another. You must dwell in one place for a while.

What is true of grape farming is also true of the practice of Zen.  “Authentic Zen,” writes Dr. James H. Austin, a neurologist and longtime Zen practitioner, “has always meant inhabiting each present moment in the most natural, direct, and spontaneous way.”[i} And in his book Being Upright, the Zen priest Tenshin Reb Anderson employs the same verb to describe the practice of zazen:

For a sentient being to practice the ultimate good means not to move. How do you realize not moving? By fully settling into all aspects of your experience: your feelings and your perceptions. Not moving means to be fully congruent with yourself. You go down to the bottom of your experience, as all buddha ancestors have done, and enter the proverbial green dragon’s cave. Graciously and gently, you encourage yourself to fully inhabit your body, speech, and thought. You may even command yourself to be obedient to yourself, and to come all the way in and sit down.[ii]l

 “Although no one issues the invitation,” Anderson further explains, we “invite the self into the self.” As both “host and guest of the self,” we fully inhabit our experience. (more…)

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81. Flappers

In “A Voyage to Laputa,” the third book of Gulliver’s Travels, Gulliver visits a flying island where the inhabitants “of better quality” are so preoccupied with their thoughts that they fail to take notice of their surroundings. To remedy that situation, each such inhabitant has been supplied with a “Flapper,” who carries a “blown bladder fastened like a flail to the end of a short stick.” With this device, the Flappers bring their masters’ wandering minds back to reality:

The Flapper is likewise employed diligently to attend his master in his walks, and upon occasion to  give him a soft flap on his eyes, because he is always so wrapped up in cogitation, that he is in manifest danger of falling down every precipice, and bouncing his head against every post, and in the streets, of  jostling others, or being jostled himself into the kennel.*

These same dreamers also “forget what they [are] about,” until their memories are “roused by their Flappers.” (more…)

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