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The Zen of Situational Awareness


In Zen training and practice, blindness means that we don’t understand or experience the way things are in the Reality of Now. If we can be honest with ourselves and admit when we don’t understand things, the best thing would be to stay calm... pay attention... watch carefully... being fully alert to the present moment... that we might respond appropriately to what's truly happening, instead of reacting to what's not. This would be what's known as situational awareness and action.


But no, instead of this, more than just a few, without consistent or sufficient meditation practice to mediate our responses, we impulsively lurch back and forth like a person that's mentally and emotionally drunk or high on thoughts tangled around the axis of self, assuming evidence, not in fact. That’s what influences so many things to be complicated. We're blinded by thinking, believing we're seeing, all the while stumbling badly.


Zen Master Dogen Kigen once said... “Reflect quietly on whether your understanding, intentions, and actions are one with Buddhism (living in conscious contact with compassion and loving-kindness) or not. If you pause long enough and are honest enough to notice, you might notice gaps between intention and action, perhaps endeavor to close them. The penetrating eyes of the Buddhas and our ancestors are constantly illuminating the entire universe.”


Whether we get it or not, we are born bodhisattvas and remain so for our entire life! It's a genetic trait. Some have suggested that we were "Born in sin..." which means being a damaged arrow that's incapable of reaching its intended target... Love! That's bullshit. Our inherent Buddha nature... Buddha DNA... can be a lot like buried gold... no matter how deep and hidden it can seem, it's always right here and cannot be contaminated or damaged. This is one reason the Tibetans have a tendency to paint statues of Buddhist practitioners gold... as a pointer to our eternal grace.


The invitation is to practice Zazen... Zazen... Zazen... until we know that our eyes are horizontal and the nose is vertical... that thought is thought, and reality is reality. It's at that point we can embrace our True Nature... Universal Loving Presence... and stop riding our character defects and defaults like a bomb to the ground of self-inflicted suffering; harming ourselves and so-called others.


一We Are the Practice Itself


Calligraphy Note: 情知 | Jōchi | Situational awareness, clarity of understanding of what's going on around us, which is critical for making healthy decisions; within our immediate experience and environment.

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