KEEPING OUR HEAD COLD AND FEET WARM
Zen Master Nyogen Senzaki, in his final words to students, was, "Friends in Dharma, be satisfied with your own heads. Do not put on any false heads above your own. Then, minute after minute, watch your steps closely. Always keep your head cold and your feet warm." As his final words, he knew he had zero time to waste. For me, his words are identical to the sword of Manjushri Bodhisattva, as a way of expressing cutting through ignorance and our thinking mind's capacity for near infinite delusion, which is to live in a kind of trance state that fakes us out of living our life, substituting it for a harmfully enmeshed relationship with thinking and all that comes with it.
Zen Master Nyogen's wisdom cautions against allowing any filter - including our own thinking - to obscure the direct experience of each moment. When we put habitual narratives and interpretations above intuitive presence, we put on a "false head" that disconnects us from reality.
Today's screen technology offers yet another false head we often wear. We turn to screens for facts, communication, and entertainment. Each smartphone, tablet, and computer provides information and opinion masquerading as insight. While screens bring us closer to the world, they often distance us from our direct experience. We live through a fabricated lens rather than raw presence. Over time, our intuitive wisdom atrophies. We rely on what screens tell us is accurate and essential rather than what we directly know and feel. Observationally, people are growing shallower, more isolated, reactive, vicious, and more tribal rather than Loving, kind, generous, and happy.
The danger is not technology itself. The danger is an immature us, with overly accessible and convenient technology that we place in the direct line of sight of our experience. Devices open many gifts when harmonized with being present in life beyond any screen. The actual cost is our relationship to this moment. In contact with reality, as it truly is, we can shed all false filters and touch the ground of being. When we take in the world for ourselves without relying on technology's "heads," we can experience conscious contact with our inward source... our intuitive wisdom. A meditation cushion offers a very analog perch for True Awareness. Each moment offers a complete teaching and experience if we approach it cleanly.
The invitation is to accept personal responsibility, meeting Reality as Reality instead of placing things between our attention and awareness. When you reach for your phone next, consider letting the moment be instead. Set down the device, allow full presence to expand, and directly perceive what each instant reveals. Return often to this direct approach, keeping your head cold and your feet warm. Here, you may find life has much to show you that no technology can replace.
In closing I could say, being Reality ourselves, we seek to gain Reality. We're like the blank screen in the movie theater. It's always been there... never been changed... and yet thousands of films have been played on it. People clap for the films played on it... no one claps for the blank screen of emptiness... and so, "Friends in Dharma, be satisfied with your own heads. Do not put on any false heads above your own. Then, minute after minute, watch your steps closely. Always keep your head cold and your feet warm."
一We Are the Practice Itself