This is all there is

One night last week I woke up anxious about a task I’d left undone at work, something that might cause problems for other people. Full of tension, I was unable to stop thinking about the problem I’d created.

Then I remembered I was a Zen practitioner. I decided to apply my Zen to the situation.

“This is all there is.” I realized that the past was gone, and the future—when the consequences might occur—did not yet exist. Only the present moment, including my sensations of anxiety and regret, was real. If I wanted to take action to reduce future problems, that would be fine, but otherwise, the only sensible thing was to accept and witness my discomfort in the present.

Now I often remind myself: “This is all there is.” I strive to appreciate each moment of my life.

About Alan

I've been an active meditator for over 10 years with Heart Circle Sangha, a warm and supportive Zen practice center in suburban New Jersey. Led by our teacher, Joan Hogetsu Hoeberichts, the Sangha offers a place to start a meditation practice and then to deepen that practice over the years.
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2 Responses to This is all there is

  1. Pingback: Enjoy the walk | Heart Circle Sangha Blog

  2. James Jakudo Shammas says:

    Yes, I came to meditation practice, much the way even old man Shakyumuni did, in order to alleviate MY own suffering, and, like him, gave up some other practices I was taught during my lifetime (not ancient Indian ascetic practices, but drinking beer, watching TV , shopping, and the like), only to find that my very budding zen practice was just another desire to escape suffering. Maybe it was a more noble start, but I simply traded in one addiction for another. Yes, I said, but it was a better method than previous ones. Than I discovered Dogen, the Heart Sutra, and the Buddha’s third turning of the dharm wheel (He presumably modified his teaching according to his audience, as “skillful means.”). Well, now I’m living koan after koan, especially the one in the Gateless Gate where this poor guy is dangling from a tree, dangling from his goddam teech while some moron below is asking me about Boddhidharma, which is really–as I understand it–the same as some jerk asking me about the meaning of life, or some other esoteric nonsense. So here I am swinging! I mean, I’m just swinging! This is it! Is it? This is it! I can’t go on! I’ll go on! (Good old Samuel Beckett)
    And so I realize the urgency of staying present, and acting from that place (Is there another?) as if my head is on fire. I don’t know. Still some Great Doubt here, but–coupled with Great Effort and Great Faith–maybe I will experience the Great Death and live to tell you about it.

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