January 21, 2007

"The Wisdom of Solitude"

A Zen Retreat in the Woods
by Jane Dobisz

From the book jacket:
Inspired by her Korean Zen master's discipline of long, solitary retreats, Jane Dobisz strikes out to a lone cabin in the countryside of New England, armed with nothing but determination, modest food supplies, and an intensely regimented daily practice schedule. The unfolding story of her experience is threaded through with Zen teachings and striking insights into the miracles and foibles of the human mind when left to its own devices, with little distraction at hand.

Meaningful Quotes:
The practice of Zen (as opposed to the study of Zen) is... to give yourself completely to each moment as it is - whether it is doing a mantra, stumbling in the dark, or feeling the fire's warm heat on your skin. It requires a complete suspension of disbelief, which amounts to trusting that there is something much deeper than reason and logic, and that if you follow it, you might just end up where you belong.

There is nothing new, really. We just keep revisiting the same lessons over and over until we digest them. As we digest them, they become who we are.

I appreciate this chance to watch time and space disappear in the repetition and simplicity of something so ordinary as cutting wood.

How many times in life do we want something, get close, and then back away at the last minute, afraid to take the risk? We humans are all like that.

"On the bones of the Great Mountain
flowing water cleans the ancient Buddha's mind.
Do you understand the true meaning of this?
You must ask the pine tree." Zen Master Man Gong

Moment by moment the choice is there: to surrender to infinite possibility or to lock myself inside the walls of pessimism, limitation, and subjectivity.

Having the mind and the body in the same place at the same time solves about ninety-nine percent of the matter. The other one percent, of course, is what you do with it.