Right Effort - Right Concentration:: The Destination Does Not Matter
Feb 29, 2016 06:50PM
● By Seijaku Roshi
We live in a results-oriented society in which the destination is the focus of our attention and is too often overvalued. In his prescription for cessation from stress (suffering) and fear, the Buddha spoke about applying “Right Effort” and “Right Concentration”. What really matters in every moment of our lives is a greater appreciation of the power of what we bring to each moment. The destination or results is often 99.9 percent a function of what I am bringing to the moment. Another way of saying what I mean is, “It doesn’t matter who other people choose to be in life, or even the present circumstance or situation. What really matters is who you choose to be and what you are offering, to every circumstance or situation you encounter.”
Without a clear understanding of how the mind perceives and experiences each moment suffering in the form of stress, worrying and fear will compound. In every moment I am bringing a perception of the moment which is filtered by my conditioning, which has shaped and formed my expectations, my opinions, my beliefs, and my intentions. When left to its own design, ego literally shapes and forms not only what I’m experiencing at any given moment but also predetermines what I am permitted to experience. Whether I like to hear it or not, I bring a bias point of view to every moment.
Central to Zen Spirituality is training in mindfulness, an ancient technique whereby I train in precision awareness of “what I am bringing to this moment”. When I am aware of the “stuff” I bring, then and only then am I able to address the quintessential matter: At every moment “my stuff” allows me to either be open to or is causing me to close my heart and mind to the present circumstance and situation, or the person I’m engaging. More often than not my tendency to close my heart and mind is not because the situation calls for it, but because my conditioning will not allow me to consider an alternative response. Alduous Huxley wrote, “Experience is not what happens to a man, it’s what man does with what happens to him.”
The life of a true “Spiritual Warrior” includes: first, an awareness of how the mind is functioning from moment to moment, which is achieved only through regular training; second, a code that you live by (integrity); and third, an uncompromising devotion to training the mind and heart to openness in every moment of life. This is the way: every day, no matter the circumstance, no matter the situation. When our attention and our awareness is about “who we are” going to be in every moment, what “we bring” to the moment as a benefit for others, then the destination doesn’t matter. We can be in the streets or in the palace, nothing special. We can be wealthy or poor. Wherever we go there is the Kingdom of Heaven, the Pure Land, Nirvana.
I love you.
Seijaku Roshi is the founder and spiritual director of The Zen Society, Pine Wind Zen Community, 863 McKendimen Rd., Shamong, New Jersey. For more information, call 609-268-9151 or visit PineWind.org.