An interesting lesson in awakening, but first…
Last week, in a spur of sales we hit #22 on Amazon Best Seller list for documentaries. That’s amazing! It’s really great to see this type of momentum pushing toward mindfulness. The need is there! And the magic that is necessary to make change is not so far off. It’s as much effort as spending that one extra moment to recycle a piece of trash instead of throwing into the main waste. If we individually spend a moment to be mindful, then as a culture we can begin to awaken and realize what we need to do. What that next step will be! Yet, the hardest thing we need to do is sometimes so very simple.
Alive or Dead?
One Zen master and his student walked into a funeral parlor—filled with bereaved family and friends—the student takes his hand and pounds it loudly on the coffin, Bang! He burst out.
“Alive or Dead?”
The master answers quickly, “I’m not saying alive, I’m not saying dead.”
The shocked mourners watch and soon return to normalcy.
The student yells, “Why not?”
Followed by the master, “I’m not saying! I’m not saying!”
Are you waiting for the punch line?
In Zen, the punch line is realized through a shift in perspective from our normal feeling of IN our selves to a feeling that is OUT of our selves. Simply, a shift out of ego is what is necessary and it is a mindful state that can be obtained through mindfulness practice.
“Alive or Dead?” Our minds keep everything alive or dead. When someone passes on, it’s our memories that keep him or her alive. It’s our memories and patterns of our behaviors that keep identity and character alive. When we are mindless, we act within the patterns of our own thoughts and emotions, trapped by our own limits. When we are mindful, we can step outside the patterns and observe them. Then, change them! Ask yourself, “Are you alive or dead when doing what I am doing in this moment?”
“I’m not saying alive, I’m not saying dead.” Who can say what we keep alive or don’t keep alive? It’s up to us to determine these patterns—sometimes with the help of professionals and friends. No one can really say. But with more mindful moments in our lives we become more aware of what is alive or dead within us. And most importantly, what we are keeping alive or dead.
“I’m not saying! I’m not saying!” This is a blessing from the master to force the student into his own mind to find his own answer and not be told what it should be or shouldn’t be. Those that tell us what we should and shouldn’t do can never really help us unless we decide to mindfully act on it. It’s like telling someone with claustrophobia after shoving him into a small closet, “Oh, don’t be scared anymore, everything will be fine!” Nothing you say or can say will help this person in that moment. They need to realize it on their own and that is the key to awakening.
Mindfulness can be that bridge to help us to awaken to what is Alive or Dead in our lives and change it if necessary.