Monday, May 9, 2011

Have you been using too many colons?

We have thoughts; then we usually have thoughts about those thoughts; then we have thoughts about those thoughts, too; and so begins our suffering.

Here's a "thought" example of what I mean. "Boy are all those tattoos on his arm ugly: I could never do that ... what would my Mom think ... he's obviously been in prison ... and probably addicted to drugs ... I hope he doesn't sit next to me ... he could have Hep C ... why would anyone go through such pain, only to have hideous tattoos showing... he should cover them up when out in public." Ongoing thoughts such as this bring me no peace of mind. But this is what the human mind does, and we believe it!

But what happens when we leave that first thought alone? There it is. One thought. From the example above, the first thought was: " "Boy are all those tattoos on his arm ugly." Now try sitting with that one thought without "thinking" about it. "Is that so?" is a good question to ask yourself, without going into another dialog around that question. This is the process of meditation! Noticing thoughts but not running with them. When we do, then
come back to your breath or that first thought, OR your koan OR the Step you are working on.

So here's my tip. Use more periods (.) and fewer colons (:) in your life.

Back to tattoos, they are simply body art. Period. Anything else we add to that is not very useful. Sure, you may not appreciate his particular body art but that's just your opinion. Opinions are not what the Universe presents to me. I've made them up and they usually do not bring me joy. In fact, at one time I had all these same opinions about tattoos, until one day it came to me that they are simply body art. Some art I like and some art a don't. When I come upon any kind of art, good or bad, what has been presented to me is simply art. What I do next is my choice.

What has all of this to do with the 12 Steps and Zen Koans? Everything! it's part of my practice to notice when my thoughts have become stuck in the quicksand of opinions and stories. As with real quicksand, by stopping the struggle is when freedom becomes possible. When I stop the
struggle with thought-upon-thought is when the koan can deal with the matter.

Bill K.

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