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Lions Roar : May 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2006 26 thoughts. They don’t go away, but there’s a vast difference between identifying with the clouds and identifying with the vast sky within which the clouds appear. Iden- tifying with “I-as -awareness,” rather than “I-as -a-me,” is like identifying with the sky, and from that awareness the clouds are never as substantial as they appear from the inside. For example, anxiety may arise, but within the wider container of open awareness we can experience the anxiety but not be anxious. The little sense of “I-as -anxious,” which normally pre- dominates, gives way to the bigger sense of “I-as -awareness.” To live increasingly from the sense of “I-as -awareness” is an essential aspect of living an awake life. Here is where we can experience the profound meaning of the Zen phrase “marvelous activity—chop- ping wood and carrying water.” This is not the narrow experience of absorption, nor of losing the sense of self; rather, it is an awake presence. Immersed in activities, there is a knowing of who we are—that we are more than just this body, just this per- sonal drama—and the clarity and wonder of our basic connectedness increasingly becomes a lived reality. Of course, this description of what it means to live awake is not like a scientific formula. But neither is practice. In fact, the attempt to define and confine practice as one thing is much too limiting. Prac- tice is not science; it is much more like art, where we have to deal with the world of subtlety, paradox, and mystery. But that does not mean that practice has to be mysterious. The more we understand the subtleties of the continuum of awareness, the less we’ll be seduced into a single, lim- ited view of what living awake means. It’s not just about being one with our experi- ence, any more than it is just about being mindful or spacious. It’s not just about anything. But living awake, if it had to be distilled to its most essential compo- nents, would always include a diminution of the self-centered story of “me”; a sense of presence, of “hereness”; and perhaps above all, the heartfelt sense of connect- edness that is the essence of who we are and the source of compassionate living. ♦ The Maezumi Institute is the major study/practice center of the Zen Peacemakers, offering training paths, study programs, and hands-on internships to Zen Practitioners, peacemakers, and social activists. The Institute consists of five major tracks. For latest program schedules, please visit www.zenpeacemakers.org/programs 177 Ripley Road, Montague, MA 01351 413-367-2080 x8#