Many of us yearn for a deeper spiritual connection, but few of us know how to manifest spirituality in our daily lives. We buy into conditioning from the media and our schools, and as a result we experience life as limited and painful. Daido Roshi says that this dilemma is like someone sitting by a river and dying of thirst. We need to realize that it is possible to let go of these restrictive ideas, and to experience life with a fresh, adventurous spirit. Zen practice teaches us to go to the edge of our limits, to let go of our mental chains and experience the boundless joy available to all of us. As we learn to trust ourselves and open up to our experiences, we see that the spiritual life is actually with us all the time, even in the most mundane activities of our everyday routine. Life is nothing but spiritual, and joy is our human birthright.
Zen Buddhism emphasizes zazen, or seated meditation, as the means to study the self and understand who we truly are. Dharma talks are an essential aspect of Zen training and take place in the context of zazen. Said to be "dark to the mind and radiant to the heart", a dharma talk is one of the ways in which a teacher points directly to the heart of the teachings of the Buddha. In our meditation practice, it is easy to get lost in self-doubt, fantasy, numbness, and emotional agitation. Dharma talks help to ground our practice, providing inspiration and an essential recognition of exactly where we find ourselves, so that we can learn to face difficulties and obstacles with a free and flexible mind. This talk was given at Zen Mountain Monastery or the Zen Center of New York City of the Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen Buddhism, founded in 1980 by the late American Zen Master John Daido Loori, Roshi (1931-2009).
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John, John, you've outdone yourself!