Hello all,

Pg 14 Heavenly Wind
"That which we call paradise or happiness or the Dharma or enlightenment cannot be sought outside us. It will be found only when we notice that we are innately endowed with it."

"If you try for it, you will become separated from it."

This topic isn't a new one for us is it? To me this story is a gentle reminder of why I need to plant my butt on my cushion each day.

I am the youngest of four children in my family. I have a strong bond with my sister, who is closest in age to me (we are five years apart). Growing up, my sister was often bossy and always felt the need to tell me what to do and when to do it – as bigger siblings tend to do. I began to rely on her judgement, or rather her perceptions of my situation and the best way to handle it instead of trusting in myself to make a decision. And I’ve found that throughout my life, I have sometimes felt the need to call on her or another close friend to, in essence, validate my own feelings on what I should think or do. I sometimes felt/feel my happiness depends on another person's perspective of me, my decisions, or I look to them to help me figure out what I already know in my heart to be true. I've found through this practice, that it would just be simpler to tune into myself in the first place; put trust in myself and follow what my instincts tell me to do!

Recently, I have placed myself in a situation in which I put so much stock in what other’s opinions or perceptions "may" be of me that I forgot to just trust myself, just be myself and let others perceive me as they will. Do I really need other’s approval to be happy in my life? A kind friend reminded me that it is important to look inside and just be who I am first and I thank him.

QUESTION: Describe a time in your life when you have allowed outside influences to affect your way of thinking or doing?

Pg 15

"If it Sloshes, there isn't enough. People are like gourds. Human beings who are truly self-aware remain calm and unruffled no matter what happens. When people rush around busily, complaining and making excuses, they prove their lack of wisdom.”

I loved this story. It puts such a neat spin on advice we've heard throughout our lives - the advice for us to count our blessings, or to look at what is already present in our lives. Prior to starting down this path and still sometimes on this path, I've let little things upend my sense of calm.

The very day our moving trucks were delivering our things to our new house, my van broke down. I had just started my job (and the kids started school) that very week, so I wasn’t about to ask my boss for a day off. My mind tells me, “oh crap, we have school tomorrow can Eric leave a little later to take us, I have no idea where a garage is to get it fixed, this is going to cost a lot, we can’t afford anything unexpected right now after moving"…on and on. The same day, our phones were hooked up and activated, yet our phonelines were dead – after a visit from the phone company, we find out that phone lines were never run to the house. My mind tells me, “this house is only 5 years old, how in the world were there no phone lines hooked up, and this is going to cost a lot" …on and on. The same week, our dishwasher stopped working and we had to call a repair man to come fix it. My mind tells me, “I barely have time during the week now to get things done, now I’ll have to wash dishes by hand! (oh the horror ), now we’re going to have to pay the repair man and pay for a new dishwasher, this is going to cost a lot."

After making it through all this, I realized that it did end up costing a lot…but not a lot of money. It cost me time away from my kids, stress and headaches over things that were out of my control, and unnecessary anger toward everyone when things were easily fixable. As many wise individuals have stated here, zazen doesn't fix all these problems, but it does allow us to see through them. It takes away the power of these stresses, and our fears of them so that we can come through them essentially unharmed.

QUESTION: Have you had a time in your life when you felt like you were just "sloshing" around and couldn't find a sense of calm? Were you able to regain some stillness, and how?

This is just my limited interpretation of these stories, I'm looking forward to hearing yours.

bows to all,