We all want to maintain control over our lives: our relationships, our work, our health, even our moods. We want to know where we're going and what's going to happen when we get there. Letting going of knowing is hard because we think that if we don't know where we're going, we won't get there. Yet no matter how much we want to control life, it won't be controlled. But if grasping and manipulating doesn't work, what are we to do? Instead of putting our energy into trying to prevent life's upsets and spills, we can put that energy into being free within the upsets and spills. When we walk the path of awakening, we learn to master life rather than control it. Meditation practice is a means of opening our minds and hearts, allowing us to meet life on its own terms.
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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