Wednesday, June 26, 2013

World First


I imagine we all have our own way to start the day. A cup of coffee or tea, a morning jog, a yoga or Pilates routine. For some 40 years now, mine has been to sit atop a black round pillow with my legs crossed, make a circle with my arms, thumbs touching lightly and set myself gently into the world with each rise and fall of my breath. This exquisite practice of zazen, honed and crafted over a couple of thousand years, walks me across the bridge from the dream world into the living day. But the window between first opening the eyes and lighting the incense should be small. It’s important to go from Dream to Presence before the mind starts pumping out its lists, its obsessions, its daily chatter, Give it a chance to merge with morning birds and settle into a pure awareness before it starts checking its messages.

All writing is to oneself alone, not so much revelation as reminder and here I’m sending a note to Self: “Don’t open the damn laptop before sitting!” There’s a little feud going on between my need to connect with World through the body and breath and my equal need to feel connected to others through the glittering glamour of e-mails and Facebook posts, those flimsy illusions that we are needed and important and interesting to others. Well, yes, some of that chatter is necessary to keep the engines of our lives running and often pleasurable to hear from a friend or find out their news. But order matters. Sit first. E-mail later.

Today I went down the dark path to the bright screen and my sitting was weaker for it. I remembered an old haiku somewhere on this subject and miraculously, found it in one of my old handwritten journals:

                                                “The messenger
                                                 Offers the branch of plum blossoms,
                                                 Then the letter."
                                                                               -Kikaku

Brilliant! First the plum blossoms, then the letter. And then the blossoms again. The sun is out in San Francisco after three days of wintry rain and I am out the door and running.

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