2021-06-14-The Dharmic Life (1 of 5) The Body as your Monastery
8:10PM Jun 14, 2021
As we begin this week, the theme I had in mind is practicing in our lives. And then you could say that all of Buddhism is about practicing in our daily life in our ordinary lives in our lives. And, and certainly, so many of the teachings are completely connected and relevant to how we go about our living our lives. But the orientation I have for these talks this week, is for people who would like to live a more dharmic life, sometimes they consider it would be nice to go live in a retreat center or in a monastery, maybe for a while, or find some way to live more fully in a dharma. And then it may be, it's easy to do and in a daily life, where there's work and family and buisiness and things to do. So what is it we can do, so that we have, you know, Bennett week, a few that receive some of the benefits, that, uh, that a life that's absorbed in a contemplative life absorbed in a renunciant life absorbed in a monastic life? How could we have some of those benefits in ordinary life that we live in. So for that, I want to talk about five different ways we can bring more practice into our lives or live more in the Dharma, that's I would like to believe is available to all of us. And to really pick these five areas up that you'd find tremendous benefit of feed, not only would you find the Dharma, the Dharma would find you. And you would, you'd created you allow yourself to be a receptive receptacle for the Dharma, and it might fill you in a wonderful way. So the first of these five is to be more connected to your body, to practice mindfulness of the body, to center yourself on your body, and is one of the things that I say delightful is, and surprisingly discovered in practicing in different Buddhist traditions, that one way or the other, they seemed the ones I practice seem to all emphasize, being grounded connected to your body. Sometimes it was not explicit, but for, but there was a lot of the body was clear, you had to bring it along and practice with your body. When I was practicing zen, I don't know if there was a really active discussion about mindfulness of the body. But so much of the practice was embodied, you sat in a particular posture that really required you to be embodied to sit in the posture. If you're eating, you did it in a way that was an embodied eating, we would eat when we ate more formally, it is in practice, we would walk in ways that encourage more embodiment and connection to our body, we would, when we were doing work, we were instructed to really put ourselves fully into it, and be connected and involved in the work, be of kind of absorbed in the work, but in a way that our body was really there for it. And, and so there was all this emphasis on just being in your body. And I learned so much about being embodied by working in the monastic kitchen, when I was a Zen student, and really being present with my whole body as best I could, it wasn't always easy to, to be connected to whatever physical work I was doing in the kitchen, it was all physical work. And so to do it with both hands, full body real connected to doing it, absorbed in the physicality of it, you know, for do I did it for a whole year. And, and, and it really the way we did it did wonderful things for me, but teaching me how to be in the world in an embodied engaged way.
The people would teach Teach me when I was doing Zen in America and also in Japan, to to know, to do his things with my body enthusiastically. So not just to kind of I had a tendency maybe to kind of use one hand kind of be there for it. Part of my body was involved other things, other thoughts, and kind of half heartedly do things. And that did not go over well, and then you had to be really there wholeheartedly. And one way that was emphasized a lot in Japan was you always did things with two hands. And so if you picked up a pot of food, or you picked up a to a tool, or if you gave someone a gift, whatever it was, you'd always do it with two hands. So you're fully in it, the, it feels different to give someone a gift with two hands, then they kind of just hear here you go and kind of like, give it the only part of who you are, but to do with fully the I love the, the Anjali the bump, the you know, putting the hands together and bowing. because it brings, you know, these two sides of who we are, in a sense, the left and the right and the coming, all of us are involved. That is different than shaking our hands, which is you know, only part of us or our, our bodies involved. And I think shaking hands is a wonderful thing when people come back to do it again. But it has its own value and and wonderfulness. I don't want to diminish its value. But there's also something valuable, but really coming together and offering kind of like all of ourselves in that greeting in that respect. And, and then to becoming more tuned to the sensations of the body, the sensations of our body are not senseless to to feel like there's, you know, no sense and no meaning and no value and being involved with the senses of the body, in fact, makes the body senseless. And we get disconnected from the sensations, but to value them, because they are the carriers of so much information. They are the expressions of our attitudes, expressions of our emotions and feelings. They are the expressions of our reactivity and our response to what's happening in the world around us. And there's layers and layers of subtlety that we can be aware of, when we're really connected in our body. If we're not so connected at all, then just a little bit a connection to the body will provide the early warning signals of feelings and sensations and attitudes and, and information about what's happening in the world around us. That is often there before our thinking mind is aware of it. And the first sensations of anxiety, the first sensations of anger, or for sensations of, of love, or kindness or warmth toward someone. There's all these different things that the body sometimes this comes through the body, that if we're busily thinking and wanting and reacting and being that thinking about what's wrong, we don't really pick up. And so I once in teacher I studied with talking about the body being an antenna, and and the more your you tune yourself to that antenna, the more information you pick up. And I would emphasize it's not just the antenna to what's informations outside of our body, but also what's inside. And, you know, the, the, you know, we're not really a divided being between the mind and the body. The body is a really rich repository of intelligence of responsivity, of feelings of emotions of infinity information that's so helpful for our lives. So to spend more time being sensitive to the sensations, sensing what's happening in the body,
it begins kind of shifting the emphasis from thinking that the mind is going to solve everything, to allowing the body to participate, allowing the body to receive an experience, and to help process what's going on. Some of the difficult emotions we have, can be well processed in the body. If we allow the body to feel it can be difficult. Sometimes, we feel all these things more acutely. And that can be painful in a sense. But there's an art to learning how to keep opening in the body opening the body in a wise way in a supported way and every compassionate way. That allows the body to support us to become free to free up things to release things. And part of that is because any holding in the mind and attachment and clinging we have often gets expressed in the body becoming tense becoming a held muscles being held in tight And, and that tightness tends to numb the body. But as we become more aware of the body, it tends to free the places of tightness. First, we become aware of all the tension we hold in our body. But that's a stepping stone for the body to begin to release, releasing itself and open up. And so the more we can practice you being in our body, when we do things and really being present, and more, we can become more aware of sensitive to the sensations of our body, that feelings of our body, what's going on in the body. That is a way of learning to live a more dharmic life to let the Dharma all the benefits of mindfulness and, and wisdom, to begin to kind of showing itself in being accompanying us through our body through our life. The less we're connected to our body, the less that Dharma accompanies us through our life unless we're quite good at, at the cognitive aspects of keeping in mind and thinking about it. And that can be useful. But, and some people maybe that's the primary vehicle. But for most people, I think that tremendous benefit to being rooted in the body and connected to what's happening in this body or of ours. And so if you would like to live, if you'd like to avoid having to go and become a monastic and go live a monastic life, or even a full time dharmic life, if you would like to live a contemporary contemplative life, a dharmic life in your ordinary everyday life, then you might your monastery is your body, and your temple is your body. And so keep coming back, being in your body. And then I'll continue in this theme tomorrow with a whole other area that you could focus on if you'd like that's part of daily life. And in the meantime, it is next 24 hours. Maybe you will experiment, give more emphasis on your body and what's happening there and how you use it and the feelings sensations, what's happening if you allow your body to be more in receptive mode, to feel all the sensations that we have. So I hope you enjoy that, if not now. I hope this mindfulness of body will bring you to great enjoyment or great delight and having this physical body Thank you