In Solitude

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by Mike Manyo Sensei

I sit in solitude and silence. That is until our little dog barks or someone cranks up a lawn mower for a little while to cut their grass. I hear the water from a fountain next door as it runs all day. The sun shines then hides behind clouds. It gets a little too warm on the porch and I have to change to shorts and short sleeves. I hear a little ticking from the wall clock. There is a light breeze outside and I see that I need to do some more raking out front. I am in a sort of a meditation, silent, no TV or radio, and alone with my own thoughts. Our meditation is “portable”. We can take it “to go”. We can depend on it at any time if we choose to. I have the opportunity to consciously work with my thoughts, good or bad. One block away is the St. Johns River, the only river in the world that flows North other than the Nile. My thoughts from the past I think are illusions. My thoughts of the future are uncertain. I am truly grateful for what I have and for what I have been able to share. Sometimes when I make attempts of acts of Loving Kindness it is difficult and can even very much test me. Sometimes I do OK, other times not so much. Distracting thoughts (maybe even negative thoughts) will come into my mind. I have to practice to label the thought as “thinking”, not cling to it, and let it pass through and leave like a cloud. No superstition, no-nonsense, no thought of reward or punishment. Just letting things “be” and not looking to the future for anything in this moment. I have to practice mindfulness on the cushion but hopefully, it helps to make me mindful when I am not at my shrine. I must learn to be mindful on the porch and eventually in all situations. Sometimes working with my breath is useful, when not “officially” in sitting meditation maybe not. Working without clinging to my own mind (thoughts), ethics, and karma. Feeling fine or working with feeling “not so fine” as the day passes. We are not stone Buddhas. Our lives and the Dharma are real things (I think) that are interconnected. We choose to live as we are so inclined. We choose to think wildly or think gently as we engage the day. I see a cat climb one of the trees in front as the cat is after a bird’s nest. I try to discourage the cats without hurting them so they don’t kill the birds. Is the cat a murderer if she catches the bird? I don’t think so as this is simply the nature of the cat. What about an alligator at the river as he catches and kills birds or a dog that steals food? You don’t have to believe anything to know that the dog does not steal and the alligator does not murder. They are doing what is according to their nature for now. They do not have the capacity (at the moment) to understand anything different. At the same time, we have a different capacity. What can save us from being reborn in a lower realm? Using our precious human minds to live the Dharma as best that we can. May we all discover freedom by living by the Dharma. May our thoughts be right and may our effort be right. For the benefit of all beings.

 

Mike Manyo Sensei is part of the Lay Minister program with the Bright Dawn Way of Oneness Sangha.  To learn more about Bright Dawn Way of Oneness please visit us here.

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