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Dropping Our Attention To Thoughts So That We Can Hear Our Authentic Experience


Once, a university professor visited a well-respected Zen Master to learn about Zen. The Master invited him to sit for a cup of tea. The professor sat down and started talking about Zen. He went on and on, telling the Zen Master about the sutras, yoga and its intersectionality in Buddha's practice, the life of the historical Buddha, and so on, without even pausing to take a breath.


While the professor continued his torrent of "knowing," the Master quietly prepared and poured the tea. Despite the sound of tea filling the professor's cup, he continued talking, now even telling the Zen Master about the training he was willing to participate in and what he considered the "right" teachings on Zen. He claimed to have read many books and spoken to many people. When the tea reached the brim, the Master kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. "Stop! Stop! Stop! It's full! No more will go in!" he blurted out.


The Zen Master replied, "The same is true with your mind, filled with thoughts and cherished opinions. How can I teach you Zen unless you first empty your cup? You are suffering in your life, entangled and hogtied by your thoughts and experiences, still thinking you have the answers. This is clearly not so. Whether your ego likes it or not, the provisional roles of teacher and student are incredibly important, having a true place and purpose."


That being said, until I could admit that 90% of what I thought I knew was just the egoic mind's commentary on my experiences rather than their reality, I was in deep shit with myself. I kept doing the same things over and over, expecting different results, but obviously not learning from touching hot stoves, no matter how badly I burned myself with my own actions.


My sponsor once mentioned that I didn't need any enemies because I was exceptional at f*cking myself up by fusing my attention with every thought that addiction mind served me to eat. The moment I stopped eating and digesting the substancless thoughts and storylines, resisting the support in front of me, and simply started listening and following directions, was the moment I became untangled and freed from the cycles of suffering, ego was actively working to create for me.


Why would ego do that to its host? Because my suffering was it's mirror of reflection upon which it could see itself. The worse my suffering, the bigger it's reflection of itself, and the happier it was. And that's what my autentic self couldn't learn on my own, and why I continue to have my sponsor and Zen Master in my life to this day, teaching me about what the so-called "i" can never know, as it's a ghost in the machine of self. Such is the nature of addiction. It's a sense of self, haunting authentic Self or Presence.


一We Are the Practice of Love Itself

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