Sunday, November 06, 2016

Thoughts and Cups


I believe that this is the appropriate beginning for me. The wisdom in this has been pushed and translated into several key components of mindfulness and religion throughout the known world.

It is attributed to Nan-in, a Japanese Zen master, that he was once visited by a scholar to discuss thoughts about Zen. Being the gracious host, Nan-in made and served tea to his guest. As Nan-in poured the tea into his visitor's cup, it naturally approached the brim. Nan-in kept pouring. Upon overflowing the cup with tea, Nan-in kept pouring.

The scholar watched the tea overflow out of his cup until he could not contain his thoughts. In a fit of concern and some mild frustration, the scholar said to Nan-in, "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

In response, Nan-in said, "Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. how can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

Here is where I begin, with a cup and my thoughts. It is my journey to find a better human dwelling in my own shadows. It is my task to shine the light on these dank places and root out what is there. I need to find the full cups scattered around and empty them so I can fully understand what I'm being shown.

This is not to say that I am abandoning what I have learned. That is not the goal. The goal simply is to be a better me, whatever that may be. Of course, I wish to be the wordsmith of my dreams, but if I focus on that rather than being the most wholesome person I can be now, I will be bringing on anxiety. If I focus on the failures of the past and who I was then, I will become depressed and let the agita continue to rebuild.

It is not as easy as I make it out. Living in the present without the gnawing fear of both the future and the past coming up to tear into you takes skill. It takes practice. It takes patience not only with the surroundings and situations that will come up in daily living, but also with oneself.

In short, it takes love. It takes loving yourself and those around you. It takes loving the place you're currently in and understanding that it will not last forever. It takes loving the moment.

No, it is not easy. I am not always successful in living in or loving the moment. It can be terribly frustrating when it seems (at the time) that these moments produce nothing but bile and hatred because of failure. It has lead to both anxiety and depression because I did not step back and see that the moment was temporary or had limited effect to my life.

My cup was already full in these times. I can see that in this moment of silence and rumination. It is, and always has been, about the present.

And to be extremely corny, I will end in saying that this is why living is such a gift.

-E.

1 comment:

John L. Harmon said...

Sometimes I forget that nothing lasts forever and that everything is always changing, even when we can't see it.
This is something we need to learn from the past as it haunts us, because the past is proof of how things change.