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Buddhadharma : Winter 2011
15 WINTER 2 01 1 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY To the Zen practitioner, however, such dismissals only mask an underlying reality. The menu may not change, but other condi- tions will, and no two meals will ever be the same. By marshaling such phrases as “same old, same old,” we strengthen our preconcep- tions and bolster our sense of security, but we also erect a verbal screen between ourselves and the world before us. To pierce that screen is the task of the Zen practitioner. Sitting still without thought of attainment, we relinquish our precon- ceptions and renew our attention to what- ever is occurring, right here, right now: the flow of our breath, the rumble of a truck, the thought of an errand left undone. In so doing, we free ourselves from our habitual patterns of thought and feeling and allow the things of this world to reveal themselves as they truly are: vibrant, unprecedented, and unrepeatable. FROM ENTERING ZEN, WHITLOCK PUBLISHING, 2011 NOW YOU ARE SAFE With mindfulness, explains Thich Nhat Hanh, you can live in the present moment, free from the memories that haunt you. Some people are consumed with thoughts and memories from their past. Their mourning, regretting, rehashing, and begrudging doom them to life imprisonment in their painful past. They cannot live the present moment as free persons. The reality is that the past is gone; all that’s left of it now is impressions or images lingering in the depths of our con- sciousness. Yet these images from the past continue to haunt us, block us, and otherwise influence our behavior in the present, causing us to say and do things we don’t really want. We lose all our freedom. Mindful breathing lets us see clearly that the abuse, threats, and pain we had to endure in the past are not happening to us now, and we can abide safely here in the present. Breathing mindfully, we know the events playing out in these mental movies are not real, and simply remembering that fact removes their power to push us around. It’s like when you’re flying in an airplane. Whenever severe turbulence comes along, the seatbelt keeps you from getting thrown around the cabin. Mindful breathing is your seatbelt in everyday life — it keeps you safe here in the present moment. If you know how to breathe, how to sit calmly and quietly, how to do walking meditation, then you have your seatbelt and you’re always safe. You’re free to be here, in touch with life, not manipulated by the ghouls of suffering from events that are over and done. If in the past you were brutalized, abused, or otherwise made to suffer, you should know the way to practice so you can see that although those things did happen, now you are safe; you’re not in any danger any- more. Recognizing the ghosts of the past for what they are, you can tell them directly that they’re not real, and liberate yourself from the prison of the past. FROM PEACE IS EVERY BREATH, BY THICH NHAT HANH. © 2011 BY UNIFIED BUDDHIST CHURCH. REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM HARPERONE. WHERE’S THE CHOCOLATE!? A teaching on impermanence by the late Lama Thubten Yeshe. We love chocolate. Perhaps so much so that on some level we may believe, “As long as I have chocolate, I’ll be happy.” This is the power of attachment at work. And based on this attachment, we create a chocolate- based philosophy and order our life priori- tizing chocolate. But sometimes, we can’t get ERICHANSON