‘From the world of passions returning to the world of passions: There is a moment’s pause.’

~ Ikkyū Sōjun

Sitting on the cushion, our mind naturally wanders, streaming with memories past and dreams future. And then we pause and return our attention to rest and settle in the present. “That wandering is not some sort of defect in our practice”, said David Weinstein Roshi, who visited Portola Camp Zendo last week. “It is an integral part of our sitting.”

David has been more and more noticing that transition ~ from thoughts to attention and back again ~ in his own practice: “I was getting to a place where it seemed that my ability to pay attention was breaking down. I was thinking all I had to do was get better and better at paying attention. But when I saw Ikkyu’s words, I realized that even the ‘breakdown’ was an important feature our practice and not just some ‘bug’. There is nothing and no one to pay attention to,” just this endless stream of stories.

Pause and rest. David was moved by Oliver Sach’s last note in the New York Times: “And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.”

The pause that refreshes, moment by moment.

Oliver Sachs on storytelling and writing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrlmwEfXg7Y