THIS POST WAS FIRST PUBLISHED MAY 2011.
Day three in this epic series that has me staying up far too late into the night. Here is the second part of my personal mantra of uplift.
Step out and the Great Earth,
(It is said that the Great Earth is the foundation of gratitude and refers to the fundamental ground of Everything.)
In Rules For Meditation Zen Master Dogen states, if your first step is false, you will immediately stumble. To point out the obvious, if you are not looking where you’re going you are quite likely to not only stumble, you’ll fall over! Eventually. There is something fundamental being pointed out, although rather often the obvious practical aspect can get lost sight of. The question is where exactly are you coming from. What is going on behind the eyes which receive that which enters them? Specifically, what is the basic underlying intention behind one’s actions? On what basis does one choose to point one’s toes in this direction, rather than another?
The sixteen Buddhist Precepts are regarded as the basic principles by which one guides one’s life. Not as a rule book, although specifics on what is simply not on are important, more as an underlying intention. The fundamental intention is then to keep true to the Precepts. The only way to do that, having studied to the point of them being ones life blood, is to SIT. To meditate while walking, sitting, talking, bending, driving, cooking, thinking. In other words to be stilled and reflective within all the countless ways we engage in action, all of our days. The essence of the Precepts are found in the Three Pure Precepts; to refrain from harmful habitual actions of body, mouth and mind, to direct oneself to the good (a good beyond the opposites of good/bad) and to be/do good for others. Another way of putting that last one might be to not act like you are the only person left in the universe! We all have to start somewhere with Preceptual living so having the intention to be the best person you can be is a great intention. Once fully committed to them there is a way that we are brought to honour our pure intentions. Sometimes sooner, sometimes later. Sometimes much later. In the end good prevails.
The following is an affirmation.
The Great Earth does leap with joy
as we step out with
Engaging with the world through our senses,
embraced and embracing,
how could there not be gratitude.
Today’s letting go is the letting go of looking down. Literally having one’s eyes downcast as one steps out. For some of us, some of the time, to lever one’s eyes off the ground and to have them seeing ahead can be THE hardest and most painful act imaginable. I wish I could find the email somebody sent me describing the utter torture of raising his eyes in this way, and keeping on walking. And keeping on looking up when looking down feels safer, more comfortable, more normal. Try it. In addition, while looking where you are going try deliberately bringing in peripheral vision (go wide-screen) this helps to ease off on that hard-edged staring ahead if that’s your habit.
As you step out, make a move in life, speak out, speak up, shift inwardly and outwardly or in any other way one might step out – look up! Engaging with what is actually before you, with clear intention behind your eyes, you might be amazed to find anxiety and worry have deserted you. For me looking down, literally, indicates that I’ve something on my mind. Looking up, literally, however much my eyes slam down again makes me face and acknowledge what’s there. Acknowledging is the letting go.