It's very difficult to experience life directly. Our conditioning and ordinary way of perceiving often creates a haze that prevents accurate perception. One of the most painful aspects of this fog is our feeling of separation; as a result of this misapprehension we follow after things and lose ourselves. The truth is that our inherent nature is one of unity. This unity is not something we have to accomplish; it's something we simply need to discover. Following the spiritual path helps loosen the hold of our conditioning and see reality as it truly is: clear, bright, and unhindered. This new vision helps us to navigate our own lives, and it also allows us to offer greater assistance to the world around us.
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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