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Lions Roar : May 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2008 65 Mindfulness brings concentration. When we drink water mindfully, we concentrate on drinking. If we are concentrated, life is deep, and we have more joy and stability. We can drive mindfully, we can cut carrots mindfully, we can shower mind- fully. When we do things this way, concentration grows. When concentration grows, we gain insight into our lives. When I join my palms to greet a child, or to greet an adult, I don’t do it simply to be polite. I do it because this is my practice. I am a living being who is bowing to a child or to a friend. Join- ing my palms, I make a flower. It’s beautiful in appearance and it’s beautiful on the inside. In joining my two palms, I realize the oneness of body and mind. My left hand is like my body, my right hand is like my mind. They come together, and in an instant I arrive at the state of oneness of body and mind. When mind and body come together, they produce our true presence. We become fully alive. Oneness of body and mind is the fruit of practice that you can get right away—you don’t have to wait. The principle of the practice is simple: to bring our minds back to our bodies, to produce our true presence, and to become fully alive. Everything is happening under the light of mindful- ness. In the Jewish and Christian traditions, we say, “We’re do- ing everything in the presence of God.” That’s another way of expressing the same reality. When Jews have a shabbos dinner, they lay the table, pour the milk, and cook the food aware of the presence of the divine. In Buddhism, God is mindfulness and concentration. Every single thing that takes place is exposed to the light of mindful- ness and concentration, and that energy of mindfulness and concentration is the essence of the Buddha. Mindfulness and concentration always bring insight, and insight is the factor that liberates us from suffering, because we are able to see the true nature of reality. All rituals are nothing if they are empty of the energy of mindfulness and concentration. We could call these energies the Holy Spirit. When a priest celebrates the Eucharist, break- ing the bread and pouring the wine, it’s not the gesture and the words that create the miracle of the Eucharist. It’s the priest’s capacity to be alive, to be present at that moment, that can wake up the whole congregation. The priest can break the bread in such a way that everyone becomes aware that this piece of bread contains life. That requires strong practice on the part of the priest. If he’s not alive, if he’s not present, if he doesn’t have the power of mindfulness and concentration, he won’t be able to create life in the congregation, and in the church. That MAY 64-67.indd 65 MAY 64-67.indd 65 3/6/08 11:32:00 AM 3/6/08 11:32:00 AM