What does the interplay of practice and your life give rise to? Barry Magid June 3rd 2017

The zendo, like the poet's page, can be a container for whatever emotion or experience arises in our lives. The question is what happens to that practice of acceptance when the pen leaves the page or when we leave the zendo. The goal of practice is not to have a sesshin so deep, so once and for all that we can somehow maintain the mental states we encounter on retreats. Rather, such experiences should motivate us to reorganize our lives so that we're more stable, have more time to sit and practice. It's like making your bed. The point isn't just to have a made bed, but to become the kind of person who makes their bed.

Rachel Wetzsteon, 1967 - 2009 At the Zen Mountain Monastery

A double line of meditators sits
on mats, each one a human triangle.
Evacuate your mind of clutter now.
I do my best, squeezing the static and
the agony into a straight flat line,
but soon it soars and dips until my mind’s
activity looks (you can take the girl...)
uncannily like the Manhattan skyline.
Observe your thoughts, then gently let them go.
I’m watching them all right, unruly dots
I not only can’t part from but can’t help
transforming into restless bodies -- they’re
no sooner being thought than sprouting limbs,
no longer motionless but striding proudly,
beautiful mental jukeboxes that play
their litanies of joy and woe each day
beneath the shadow of enormous buildings.
Desires are your jailers; set them free
and roam the hills, smiling archaically.
It’s not a pretty picture, me amid
high alpine regions in my urban black,
huffing and puffing in the mountain air
and saying to myself, I’m trying but
it’s hopeless; though the tortures of the damned
make waking difficult, they are my tortures;
I want them raucous and I want them near,
like howling pets I nonetheless adore
and holler adamant instructions to—
sprint, mad ambition! scavenge, hopeless love
that begs requital! —on our evening stroll
down Broadway and up West End Avenue.

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