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And Back To One

Greetings from Spring Green!

This week, about 15 of us are in Wisconsin attending summer sesshin, seven days of intensive Zen training. We spend many hours doing zazen.

At the start of the week my mind sounds something like this: Check your posture. Breathe into hara. Count the breaths, onnnnnnnnnneeeee…twoooooooo. Sit up straighter. I wonder how my mom is doing? Relax the shoulders. Ouch, my right leg is falling asleep, if I just move it a t-i-n-y little bit, will the jiki yell, “Don’t move!”?

We’ve all been there – meditating while a thundering herd of thoughts runs through our minds.

Of all the guidelines I use during zazen, the one I use most regularly is counting my exhalations and, when I lose count, coming back to one.

It’s reassuring: I lose count, I catch myself, and I can always start again with sincere effort.

“Back to one” is especially resonant right now. As you may have heard, IZL’s sister organization the International Zen Dojo of Wisconsin has purchased an old mission church near downtown Madison. Our new Madison dojo needs a lot of TLC. Every time we start one project, we discover another. “And back to one,” I remind myself.

If you can, please add your sincere effort to help the Madison dojo reach its “$20K in 20 days” goal and check out the revamped website, thanks to Anita Taylor.

PS The Higgs boson, or “God particle,” is considered the building block of the universe and lasts only a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a second—taking tiny ferociously fast loops into and out of existence—so that the universe is continuously being reborn. Read more about “going back to one” in this context in this article from the winter solstice edition of Tricycle magazine: https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/winter-solstice-buddhism/

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Published on May 28 2019

Last Updated on Dec 11 2019