Monday, September 21, 2009

Sitting With Chuang Tzu

Flow with whatever is happening and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.
-Chuang Tzu

This is one of my favorite quotes by the Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu. It speaks of mindfulness and being present to whatever you are doing and experiencing. By being present and centered our mind is free of the regrets of the past and the uncertainty of the future. Happiness is found in the moment. Sometimes, when I find myself dwelling on the past, I create anxiety for myself by speculating what could have happened if I had turned left at a crossroads instead of turning right or vice versa. When I dwell too much on the future I am sometimes afraid when I realize that my future is shrinking by the day and that I have more of my life behind me than ahead of me. I am sometimes filled with relief that all things are impermanent and that many of today's challenges will someday pass. However, I am also filled with some fear because of the realization that I am also impermanent. It would seem that my best chances for happiness are to focus on the moment and what is happening to me now. In a sense, the moment is eternal. We should all strive to live in the eternal now, wringing all of the life out of it that we can. Admittedly, this can be challenging. Most of the weekend my granddaughter was with me. She is so full of life that I can barely keep pace with her. She is so in the moment. Her whole being is in the NOW. She could probably teach Chuang Tzu a thing or two. When she goes home with her parents I am usually a depleted and wasted Pa Paw. The intensity of living life like a five year old is almost too much for a fifty eight year old. The great enemy of my spiritual awareness is fatigue. Presence requires awareness and awareness requires wakefulness. My body, and occasionally my mind, struggles with wakefulness. However, I will continue to strive for the kind of alert and energetic wakefulness that comes so easily to my beautiful granddaughter who is now my teacher. The old man called Pa Paw is the student. With my granddaughter's help I will ask myself, in the words of another Chinese philosopher named Lin-chi, "What, at this moment, is lacking"? When I accept and believe that nothing is lacking in the moment, I can flow with whatever is happening and my mind can be free.

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