Here’s a little gem of a piece by Stuart Hollyoak.
‘The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent’
– Alfred Brendal
Our culture never tires of dangling carrots of satisfaction over my head. Industries vie for my attention and money with new fragrances, fashions, gadgets and entertainment. Though I’m hardly coerced by such propaganda it is easy, when coupled with the necessity to earn a livelihood, for me to be swept up in the momentum of everyday life and lose track of myself.
A long and settled habit of discipline ensures I make the time for zazen every day. Though I can never know someone else’s mind I imagine that some practitioners resist sitting because they are afraid. On the cushion we expose ourselves to ourselves and to life as it is in the very moment of sitting. There’s nothing grand to this – I find that I simply do not want pain in any form and have over the years concocted all manner of mechanisms to evade pain whenever I can. That and the multitude of thoughts and feelings which, when I snag my empty self on, distract me from moment to moment living.
What binds all this together is silence. No silence, no reflection, no awareness. In silence, especially in zazen, I consolidate myself to see the forest for the trees though I never see all at once and doubt I will ever see it all. Do I need to?