In this talk, Michael describes ways that our walk along the path can get difficult. But this difficulty can be met with our full heart and mind if we meet our challenges with care. Even when we miss the mark, or sin, as Michael points out, we are provided with a perfect opportunity for practicing surrender.
The recognition of meditations professional application, in my view, is such a welcome sign. I should also say that I’ve enjoyed my experiences at Wisdom 2.0 conferences.
My only concern with the article centers around the suggestion in the piece that the “code” of “enlightenment” is something that some teachers say can be cracked. While I agree that it’s reproducible – traditionally called transmission – treating awakening as something that can be commodified can’t help but water-down the teaching as well as its expression.
It’s not just Google that’s embracing Eastern traditions. Across the Valley, quiet contemplation is seen as the new caffeine, the fuel that allegedly unlocks productivity and creative bursts. Classes in meditation and mindfulness—paying close, nonjudgmental attention—have become staples at many of the region’s most prominent companies. There’s a Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute now teaching the Google meditation method to whoever wants it. The cofounders of Twitter and Facebook have made contemplative practices key features of their new enterprises, holding regular in-office meditation sessions and arranging for work routines that maximize mindfulness. Some 1,700 people showed up at a Wisdom 2.0 conference held in San Francisco this winter, with top executives from LinkedIn, Cisco, and Ford featured among the headliners.
Call me old-school, but spending time at the feet of masters helps prevent the proliferation of limited selves that think they’re Absolute.
In this evening’s talk, Michael describes the benefits of sangha as a shortcut to uncovering our pre-existing enlightened mind. He further goes into the ways that Awakening manifests in each of us as a series of qualities that show up as being at once conscious and, at the same time, spontaneous. In other words, this talk describes how qualities of flexibility, not knowing, questioning, simplicity, the recognition of what is always prior to mind and body, surrender, patience and discipline. Additional topics include, the fallacy of conflating Buddhism with New Age practices, and getting a sense of our internal freedom we often refer to as the Witness.
Ultimately, according to Michael’s talk, given at a recent one-day retreat, there are no mistakes. There are, rather, only opportunities that the mind evaluates. If we can short-circuit this addiction to evaluation we can begin to approach the way we meet the world differently. Shifting from a position where life is filled with problematic situations into a place where we find our lives filled with situations that in all cases offer us opportunities for evolution.
The talk takes place at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center and he dealves into such concepts as “No Mind,” contemporary linguistics, awareness not being the same as thought and poor zendo etiquette.
In this mashup of two talks, Michael uses the phrase from Dogen Zenji’s instructions to the cook, where he suggests that each grain of rice be handled carefully, “as if it were your own eyes.” Treating our lives this way helps us awaken to the truth that any Tathagatha, or person who actually sees reality, can embody.
This embodiment is a gift. Something referred to hal in Arabic, or satori, in Zen is this very gift. But we must earn it. We do this by being open and available vessels that carry this teaching with greater potency the more we sit still.
This is how we care for our practice… as if it were our own eyes.
There can be little doubt that traditional religious frameworks are no longer speaking to new generations as they have in the past, especially in the West. In a recent article in the LA Times, Philip Clayton, Dean of Faculty at Claremont School of Theology, writes that the fastest growing religious group in the United States is “spiritual but not religious,” containing a shocking 75 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29. Clayton argues that young people are not necessarily rejecting a sense of God, rather they feel that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in the structures of the political status quo.
This is why the Interspiritual Revolution is so important. In a recent book of magnificent scope, “The Coming Interspiritual Age” (Namaste Publishing 2013), Dr. Kurt Johnson, a former Anglican monk and evolutionary biologist, together with David Robert Ord, trace the history of the interspiritual movement from no less than the Big Bang.