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Posts Tagged ‘optimism’

The other day, I decided to focus on anticipating “bubbles of rightness” in the day that was to come. As it happened, I found myself hitting unexpected “pockets of well-being”, I suppose you could say. It was like hitting patches of turbulence while flying, except it was hitting patches of calm and happiness.

I liked that, so last night I refocused on Spring and the miracle of sudden beauty right when you may least expect it. Because it was a quieter, calmer day than I had yesterday as a whole, I didn’t notice the “calm pockets” quite so keenly. However, I think I’ll count that as a sign of success.

Now that I have a couple of days off for the weekend, I plan to see just how wonderful I can find them to be.

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I was talking the other day about the difference between Hermit Zen versus Living Zen, I think I’ll call them. While the latter is about trying to better live our lives in this world, the former is more about escaping the world entirely. After all, one might say, if the world is such a grand scam of an illusion, the best thing one could do is to ignore it and not get caught up.

That’s all on my mind again, and I truly do understand the draw of Hermit Zen. The idea of chucking it all and going to live in the mountains can be very appealing. So much of the philosophical and mystical texts focus on the ‘unreality’ of our reality that it can get to seeming like there’s no point to any of it. So yeah, I do get where Hermit Zenners come from. Except for the fact that the world remains so very fun and beautiful that it’d be a real shame to waste it.

So I’m more of the approach of Ikkyu, our old wild-spirited zen poet friend. He saw the dangers of getting so wrapped up in the idea of enlightenment that you lose sight of the great, fun-filled life of enjoying enlightenment. See through the fleetingness of it all, yeah, but lifting those gloom-tinted glasses shows me not a graveyard of crumbling dust, but a garden of blooming beauty.

So here’s a poem by Ikkyu about a kind of study meditation I can enjoy…

A Fisherman

Studying texts and stiff meditation can make you lose your Original Mind.
A solitary tune by a fisherman, though, can be an invaluable treasure.
Dusk rain on the river, the moon peeking in and out of the clouds;
Elegant beyond words, he chants his songs night after night.

Ikkyu (1394-1481)

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Last night I was thinking about the whole “glass is half-empty/half-full” kind of thing.  Regardless of how hokey it may sound, the last time I heard that referenced my response was, “Personally, after a long, hot day, I’m just grateful there’s water to drink.”

I of course didn’t mean that I wouldn’t like MORE water if I was still thirsty… though usually after half a glass of water I’ve had enough for a little while and finish it later.  Which now that I think of it, may be part of the point.  So what if the glass isn’t full?  Does it have enough water to give you what you’ll actually use right now?  If not, maybe you can get more, or maybe even find where you stuck some fresh juice in the back of the fridge.  If so, then why stress out over how much water the glass DOESN’T have?

I know, I know, it’s supposed to be all about optimism/pessimism.  But unless you throw in a healthy, useful dose of pragmatism, I think both kinda miss the point and don’t really give you much to work with.  That said, I prefer optimism.  I’ve tried both, and finally decided I’d rather be happy with what I can’t change than miserable.

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