Day 2 of this Spiritual Practice Journal.
Day 1, by the way, was not very enlightened.
(Darn. You want your first day to be enlightened, don’t you?)
Day 1–yesterday–was the pits.
My mind fought itself with a vengeance. Here’s what happened.
In meditation, early morning. Breathing with the mantra/koan “Mu” saying it with the in-breath, the out-breath, with the fire in the belly.
When suddenly, the thoughts get a brilliant idea.
(Watch out when that happens.)
Because the mind which is breathing “Mu” is suddenly distracted. It wants to find out what those thoughts are talkin’ about. Suddenly the thoughts are more interesting than the syllable “Mu” because, gosh darn it, the syllable “Mu” is just not that exciting, is it?
The thoughts begin to determine that a spiritual blogging journal ought be written. For two reasons. #1 Someday I am gonna want to know what really happened in the days preceding full awakening into Oneness. (Gosh, you thoughts are bold and determined, aren’t you?) and #2 The energy behind my spiritual practice just might help someone else with their energy behind their spiritual practice.
Suddenly I am filled with creative joy and delight. Mu is temporarily forgotten! (OK, return to Mu. Breathe in the creative joy and delight. Breathe out the creative joy and delight. Mu, Mu, Mu.)
Thoughts say: this is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done. Sitting on a couch and moo-ing like a cow.
We are not moo-ing like a cow, Thoughts. Don’t you have any distinctive powers? It is MU. Like the koan. The Zen koan.
Readers, would you like to know the story of Mu? Even though my logical mind cannot believe that I am repeating this syllable over and over and over and over again in meditation, here is the story behind the story reported in the Three Pillars of Zen by Philip Kapleau:
A monk in all seriousness asked Joshu: “Has a dog Buddha-nature or not?” Joshu retorted “Mu!”
Here is the next part of the commentary by Mumon: In the practice of Zen you must pass through the barrier gate set up by the Dharma Ancestors. To realize this wondrous thing called enlightenment, you must cut off all (discriminating) thoughts. If you cannot pass through the barrier and exhaust the arising of thoughts, you are alike a ghost clinging to the trees and grass.
Please buy the book if you want to read more. I really don’t care two figs about the Mu story. I do care sixteen thousand figs because it seems to be working on the deep unconscious.
You’re not suppose to assign yourself a Zen koan. A Roshi assigns you a riddle which can not be solved by your logical mind based on your temperament. However, if you’re sitting in the middle of the woods watching the snow fall, sometimes a koan assigns itself to you for a while.
My logical mind would never have chosen Mu. Perhaps it will abandon it tomorrow. But some time last week something deep and unconscious grabbed on to Mu like it was a life raft.
When I breathe in Mu, bellows kindle the fire for Oneness in my belly. When I breathe out Mu the fire burns brighter. It’s fierce, like a sword. There is no logical answer to the question “What is Mu?”
Mu feels fierce, uncompromising.
Yesterday it felt like Thoughts and Mu battled all day, with Thoughts the winner.
This morning I sat down after Barry left for work. Have no idea whether Mu, breath, or simple awareness will be today’s practice. It’s back to Mu.
The thoughts start writing a blog in my head immediately. I tense, prepared to resume the fight. Shut up, you thoughts! Mu continues. Thoughts continue. Mu, thoughts, Mu, thoughts.
When, suddenly, unexpectedly, the twenty-minute “drop” signals. Twenty minutes after you begin meditation–for some of us–you suddenly sink to a deeper state. You fall into your unconscious. Your breathing shifts. If you’re aware, you can feel the twenty-minute “drop”. Things change.
Suddenly, for the first time ever, Mu watches thoughts arise, but there is no effort to extinguish thoughts, to make them, please, oh please, Buddha, God, awareness, make them go away. (I think I just told a fib. This has happened many times before. But never in this way.)
Mu felt so much larger, like a light shining bright in a dark room. The thoughts could do their thing. They could write an entire blog, let them! They could go to the moon and back…if that’s what they want. But they could never, ever, ever, turn off the light of Mu which shines bright in us, encompassing all.
Why, every thought is filled with Mu, with awareness, isn’t it?
After 35 minutes, I ended Mu’ing, or did Mu end Mu’ing?
Ideally, I would like to carve space to Mu two more times today. We’ll see how this fits between work-related chores and an evening meeting.
Ideally, Mu should never cease.
Realistically, Mu never ceases.