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Facing Everything

Facing Everything
Zen Buddhist Training Right Here. Right There.

It is essential that we are able and open to respond to everything and everyone without judgment and measurement. To respond in this way, is the Way of facing the world of everything, especially to the things which feel as too much with us. Without blame or shame we must face ourselves in such a way that we realize we have invited the too much world into our living room of our mind.

The easiest example is to begin with the external, digital gadgets that bring the world into our everyday life. The gadgets are not to blame. I say this because throughout history we humans have felt the burden and bondage of the world with or without gadgets and the access to 24/7 information. We humans are prone to grab and push things to the degree we either attach to a thing or abhor it. Both are a form of attachment. Attachment and our unwillingness to relinquish our attachment to oh-so-many things is part of the glue that keeps our suffering stuck.

All the great sages come into the world to point out that birth, sickness, old age and death are constants no matter what period of history we live.

Furthermore, suffering, that which disturbs and obstructs our knowing our true-original-nature, is rooted in our taking the world personally. “Why me?” is a cry heard ‘round the world. A more precise way of thinking about this cry is to say it in terms of “why did I get this and not that, and why did I lose that and not get this other thing I wanted.”

The truth is whether we get what we want or not, both are rooted in desire and lead to suffering.

Whatever circumstances we find ourselves we tend to find suffering arising. Suffering comes in myriad, endless mental formations: not getting what we want and getting what we don’t want; losing those we want to be with and being with those we do not want to be with. It is evident that desire is the root.

Many of us have heard this teaching and yet, we do not feel as though we get free of suffering. Suffering continues to come and come and come. The reason for this continued assault is our mind of desire, attachment, feelings and all the mental formations. It is there where we take life personally and when we do that, we externalize our suffering outward to just about everything. The pandemic, the grocery line, the boss, the lack of money, too much money, crowded highways, unavailable help, too much work, not enough work. Too much time, not enough time.

OH, you can see the list goes on and on and on. Most of us have “personal” favorites that we repeat and repeat. Even when we get what we want it changes and we suffer.

Those of us who have been around in this practice get “jaded” and begin to think the teaching is not true; that no one can be liberated. No one is liberated. We may be better, but not liberated. This “jaded” place is just another version of taking it personally and blaming the external conditions.

We need to be willing to study our self.” We need to watch our forms, feelings, mental formations, perceptions, impulses, and everything that shows up in consciousness. AND restrain them to the point that they disappear altogether. Concentration is the practice that will strengthen our ability to restrain our desires for and against. Have you been using your innate ability to concentrate to end your suffering? Do you know how to do that? Are you willing to practice? Are you willing to come clean about yourself and all of your bag of tricky, sticky desires in such a way that you see them as obstructions to realizing that you are not only the child of mankind, but the child of the unborn, undying, immutable Source?” It requires a transformative change in attitude.

Perhaps you suffer with laziness and accept your misery as comme ci, comme ça; a so-so life of drifting along. Or perhaps you are confused and cannot commit to anything. You try this, you try that but it’s not that important. Or you are on a roller coaster of yes one day and no the next. Up and down with commitment. You lack dedication and devotion or you devote yourself to things that are impermanent which leads to dissatisfaction. You may find yourself lacking conviction or you have a conviction about something in the world and not the Source of everything.

On and on the interferences and obstructions come. This is where I once again encourage each and everyone of us to study the mind, your mind in such a way that you begin to see for yourself your hindrances. And as usual, a teacher is helpful.

Some of the qualities that we need to make the ascent to a spiritual life will be what this retreat will offer. Spiritual practice helps us go beyond the material world that swamps us again and again, Our practice needs to lead us to a higher consciousness that is beyond suffering. Really? You might be doubtful. That is OK. No one is persuading you to be anything else than what you are right there, right now. But say, there is an encouragement. You do have the right to choose how you live out this lifetime and this retreat may not be for you. No crime, no fine. We wish you well. But for those, who are sincere and willing, consider it.

In this retreat we will touch upon four basic teachings of Zen Buddhist training. These four instructions are already within you, but like many things we must search and find them for ourselves.

1. Concentration as Discipline

2. Surrender, Whether Adequate or Not, Surrender is the Direction

3. Seeking Comfort: Stopping the Bane of Likes & Dislikes & Comparisons

4. Purifying the Tendencies and Habits of Mind

Each week you will receive at least one teaching by e-mail and if need be, more than one.

These are a few of the teachings to guide you. Think of them as instructions for you to discover your original nature.

Underlying these basic teachings is contemplation. Contemplation is the practice of bringing together, as best as you are willing and able to do, these qualities from within yourself:

  1. Silence  Solitude Stillness  Study  Sitting

It requires commitment of time, attention and effort. Do your best without seeking a reward is the daily encouragement that helps you determine your practice in the world. Followed by the boost, don’t give up.

The Cook’s Prayer will be the supporting sutra for the five weeks along with five lines from our ancestor Hongzhi.

If you want to know more about it, send your questions to the teacher, Marilyn at

Humming Bird

Author: Fashi Lao Yue

ZATMA is not a blog.

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[1] Wordsworrth, William. 1802, “The World is Too Much with Us.”

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