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Storms of the mind and autumn on the Coast of Maine

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The foliage is turning here on the coast of Maine, and so are the weather patterns. Warms winds that brushed the skin in August are becoming sharp reminders that the sea is not a survivable place during the winter season – winds lash boats like sharp reminders not to stray too far from the safety of sheltered harbors –

The wind makes interesting patterns on the water’s surface – during autumn and winter storms the waves build to many meters’ height and can easily blow Beaufort scale eight or nine – six seems to be the default setting between November and March.

The ocean mirrors what appears before it without judgment, much like the mirror of Zen analogy – when the sky is grey, so is the ocean. When the wind blows, the sea state is disturbed – and when the storm has blown itself out, the peace and calm that follows is almost unnerving it is so beautiful.

I am an experienced mariner but a novice Soto priest, yet it seems to me that storms of the mind are like storms of the sea – they often overtake us without warning, leave us wondering what happened, exhausted in the wake afterward, and wondering what we might do to have forewarning of these storms in the future.

An old sailor once said that a smooth sea never made a skillful mariner. It is necessary to wander out beyond the safety of the seawall to test our skills and expose ourselves to rough water. Likewise with Zen, we cannot handle storms of the mind without allowing ourselves to be buffeted by the winds of emotion, and practice balance and steadiness through the practice of zazen. We learn that storms of the mind blow themselves out like those on the water, and that sometimes the best we can do is to ride out these disturbances.

Updated 10-22-2013 at 07:55 PM by Yugen



  1. Shokai's Avatar
    Truer words were never spoken my friend.

    gassho, Shokai