Part of the self I have been studying in all my years doing zazen is when my mind goes wandering. What makes that happen? What starts that process? What flips that switch from calm abiding to active discourse? Typically, and for the longest time, I blamed the noise associated with the AC or heater turning on or the refrigerator running, that sort of thing. It's like these slight noises start a little electrical current in my brain that sets monkey mind off. But as I learned to pay better attention I began to realize that sometimes those noises actually settled my mind from running, just the opposite effect. Strange. Strangely inconsistent, I am, which can be a troubling place to be... unless your a Zen Buddhist.
Then the other day I realized that it's not one or the other, not noise or absence of noise that set me off. Rather, it's the change from one to the other. As we all know, change is hard, and apparently this applies to zazen, too, which seemed like quite a realization at the time. But wait, the day before the other day I was doing zazen outside in the evening as I watched the sun play with shadows on a porch post. I watched the shadows come and go, shift and move, and it was wonderful, beautiful, peaceful. In other words, I watched change happen with calm abiding and no real agitation of any kind. So change doesn't have to be hard after all. It depends on what is changing and how, as well as how I approach that change. Ah, now this seems useful, trivial in so many ways, yet useful, at least to me.
All this reminds me of an old favorite David Bowie song that I now have greater appreciation for because I understand the lyrics in a whole new way.