From the BlogMeet Ron


Dear friends,
Someone once asked Suzuki Roshi, the pioneering Zen teacher from Japan, who successfully established Zen meditation as a serious training in the USA, founding the Zen Center of San Francisco in 1969 – someone asked him: 
“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. 
But that’s just me. 
Our culture tends to attribute the growing awareness of how to personally live a life that matters in large degree to one’s age. 
Our daughter is now living away from home for the 1st time. Maybe she’s glad to be over with adolescence and starting to think more seriously about what to do with her young life. 
Folks in the midst of adulthood are often too consumed with raising a family or just getting by, especially here in Hawai’i, to spend too much time thinking about how to live a life of purpose and meaning.
Then comes later adulthood, let’s call it. 
The Buddhist/ Jewish mediation teacher and grandmother Sylvia Boorstein remarks on turning 75: 

“I find now that time seems to be speeding up. I’ve become seventy-five years old in what feels like a brief time. The woman I see when I look in the mirror is my Aunt Miriam. It still startles me, but it also inspires me. Knowing that I have limited time left inspires me not to mortgage any time to negative mind states.”

Meditation training helps us re-orient a stuck life compass, regardless of age. 

I think a huge chunk of this work of maturation is catalyzed by the essential Buddhist reflections on impermanence. 
We come to see that everything has a life cycle: the plants in our yard, dissatisfaction at work or with a partner, our beloved pets, our bodies, our emotions, our thoughts (thankfully … our thoughts). 
As a culture we go through nostalgic fads and fascinations. As meditators I feel we experience nostalgia in every meditation, most of it below the horizon of conscious awareness.
Consciously cultivating a keen awareness of impermanence in meditation practice allows us to “know” impermanence in the marrow of your bones, not simply intellectually.
Sylvia Boorstein describes how deeper insights into impermanence unfolded for her in one intensive retreat:

“I saw, as I hadn’t ever before, that sunsets followed every dawn and that the beautiful full moon immediately waned. As I came upon a flower that was newly opening I simultaneously envisioned the wilted look it would have three days hence.

I remember tearfully reporting to my teacher, Joseph Goldstein, “It’s so sad! Everything is dying!” 
He responded, “It’s not sad, Sylvia. It’s just true.” 
I found that calming at the time, but I would say it differently now. I would say, “It’s not sad. But it is poignant.”

Meditation allows this radical shift from feeling sad when contemplating impermanence, or anything else, to feeling this bittersweet poignancy Sylvia describes above. 

And it does have these two tastes: bitter, yet sweet. When we discover this in meditation it can feel like a shift takes place in the heart – in the direction of honesty, warmth, and intimacy.
Meditation brings healing, often despite ourselves, as long as we let go of the tendency to want to change or fix ourselves, and just compassionately and intimately bear witness to our own struggles and challenges. 
As Jack Kornfield explains:
“As we heal through meditation, our hearts break open to feel fully. Powerful feelings, deep unspoken parts of ourselves arise, and our task in meditation is first to let them move through us, then to recognize them and allow them to sing their songs.” 
As the old songs sing themselves to death in our sensitive heart, we have a greater appreciation for the preciousness of this life now. This stirs us to make the most of the time we have left, and not to “mortgage any time to negative mind states” as Sylvia observes.
Finding out what’s really important is really important. 
And meditation really, really helps.
Aloha,Tom, Katina, and the kids

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