From the BlogMeet Ron


Dear Friends,
Someone once asked Suzuki Roshi, the pioneering Zen teacher from Japan who founded the Zen Center of San Francisco in 1969:
“Roshi, what’s the most important thing?” and he answered, “To find out what’s the most important thing.”
I think this question of how we live our life, how we actually live this life—not what we think about it, not what we say about it, but how we actually feel it, breathe it, and live it—may be the most important thing. 
For many, the New Year can be both a time of celebration and a time of reflection. Perhaps we look back on the year and think – despite my best efforts I don’t think I have changed much at all. 
Maybe we think of some troublesome habits which haven’t budged much.
Maybe we reflect on unfulfilled dreams, some loss or other, and those well-intentioned resolutions we made last year. But Rumi instructs us:
“Do not sit long with sadness my friends. When you enter a garden do you look at thorns or flowers? Spend more time with roses and jasmine.”
The Buddha talks a lot in the suttas about savoring the joy and contentment that come about from living a good life, meditating and practicing loving-kindness and compassion. 
Joy and ease and contentment truly provide the foundation of our spiritual life. 
Maybe it’s a time when we can really be honest with ourselves. 
I often reflect that mindfulness is learning to be intimate, and honest, with ourselves. When asked about the fruit of the spiritual life, the 13th century Japanese monk Dogen Zenji replied: “Enlightenment is intimacy with all things.”
In his book “Liberating Intimacy,” Zen writer Peter Herschock talks about the fruit of the meditative path as intimacy. Meditation is not about me getting free or clear, but rather it’s about allowing intimacy to flow.
I will never forget the first time I read Alison Luterman’s poem “At The Corner Store” – towards the end, when she has this epiphany, where an elderly man tending a small grocery shop in a big city somewhere greets her like “a long lost daughter.”

At that moment she reflects:
my whole cockeyed life—
what a beautiful failure!—
glowed gold like a sunset after rain.
Our New Year’s reflection could be a reveling in the grand mysyery of our life, just as it is, glowing gold “like a sunset after rain.”
So I wish you the very best of this precious life.
I wish you the happiness of contentment, and the peace of the non-judgmental mind.
I wish you the joy that comes from living a life well lived. 
I wish you that special loving feeling that comes when we let go of our habitual fears and prejudices.
I wish you the space and time to pursue the meditative way.
I wish you not to make sorrow and judgment a comfortable place to rest your head.
I will leave you this year with the words of André Gide, French novelist and philosopher, who encourages us to “spend more time with roses and jasmine” as Rumi advises.
Here are André Gide’s words:
“Know that joy is rarer, more difficult, more beautiful than sorrow. To make this discovery is to embrace joy as a moral obligation.”
There you have it – our moral obligation is to find the joy and contentment the Buddha talked so much about.
May it come easily and swiftly for you, and may you savor it.
Aloha, Tom, Katina, and the kids

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