Saturday, October 27, 2012

Morning Intention

Each morning we have an opportunity to set our intention for the day. This can be helpful in bringing awareness into our daily activities. It can also help to focus on how we can live each day in the tradition of Bodhidharma instead of living the life of suffering that results from simply focusing on satisfying our own wants and desires. How do we do this?

We could start by looking at our lives. What are we? Is it possible we are an expression of everything? All that has come and gone - we are an incarnation of this moment. We could add some sort of gratitude for our existence.

Are we weighed down by the events and situations in our lives? After all, life is filled with suffering. As Zen students, we work to end the suffering in our lives. Maybe we can help others, too. But, first things first. We could add something about relaxing and not taking things too seriously. We might also want to add something about seeing the humor in all situations.

If we are very self focused, we may want to add something about thinking of others and how we can help.

What about delusion? Supposedly the Buddha came to help us to cut through the delusion that keeps us from seeing our true nature. To this end, we could add something about about seeing things as they are - not as they seem or as we wish they were.

As Zen students we may need to add something regarding practice. Is our practice meditation or some type of yoga? Perhaps it is keeping our mantra or trying to keep clear mind whenever possible.

As we pay attention to our lives, our actions, our feelings, we may discover things that we find objectionable. They may cause us or others suffering. Are we selfish, mean, rude, thoughtless. Are we oblivious to the way others interpret our actions? Do we lie or gossip? Do we steal, or worse? This could be addressed as an intention to think of others and to be respectful of them. It could also result in something like a vow to bring [rigorous] honesty into my speech and our actions.

As we become aware of things that make us and others feel badly, we can isolate them and come up with specific actions to address them. If we can't isolate the behaviors, we can generalize with the intent of paying attention to see the specific actions that cause us problems.

We can add specifics to the list, too. Suppose we have a difficult time being nice to someone. Add a specific line to see him or her as a Buddha and treat him or her accordingly. Parts of this list will probably be quite dynamic as it will continue to change along with us as we work to walk in the footsteps of the Buddha.

Ultimately, we have this amazing moment of life. We celebrate the moment, we vow to continue to practice, we are thankful for what we have, and we look for what we can improve upon.

Based on this discussion, here is a possible meditation we might wish to come up with. It is somewhat detailed and might need some customization. Please come up with what works for you.
Morning Intention

I am humbled by another day of life
 I vow to see
   the joy in everything
   the truth in everything
Delusion is everywhere
  I vow to see things as they are
I am grateful for the people I meet
  I vow to see Buddha-nature in everyone
  I vow to bring awareness into all of my relationships
Suffering is everywhere
  I vow to live an attitude of helpfulness

Life is impermanent
  I vow to live accordingly
   to see the suffering brought about by attachments and clinging
  I vow to find the freedom
   present in the here and now

The way out of suffering is clear
  yet requires diligence
   I vow
    To cut through delusion
    To stop judging
     To not make good and bad
      life and death
      self and other
    To keep my practice
     be it
      Mantra practice
      Koan practice
      Mala practice
      Meditation practice
      Bhakti Yoga practice
      Mindfulness of Breathing practice
      Hatha Yoga practice
      Chanting practice
      Sutra practice
      Any other practice
      Not attaching to practice
      As possible at all times through out the day

I am grateful for this moment
   For this day
  I vow to live the enlightened life
   [according to the eight-fold path*]

What am I?

[* As necessary, add things that you are striving for. E.g. complaining less, not lying, not gossiping, any part of the Eight-fold path, such as right intention, right view, right livelihood, etc. that you wish to be mindful of.]
What is on your list? Even if you can only spend 1 minute reading or reciting your list each morning, it is time well spent.

As an afterword, this brings to mind a Koan.
Ruìyán Calls Master

Master Ruìyán Shīyan used to call to himself every day, “Master.” and would answer, “Yes?” “You must keep clear.” “Yes!” “Never be deceived by others, any day, any time.” “Yes!” “Yes!”

The question is: Ruìyán Shīyan used to call himself, and answer himself, two minds. Which one is the correct Master?