I cannot say that I’ve had any breakthrough this past year. Life is just unfolding as it always does, sometimes fast, sometimes in a leisurely manner.
As part of that unfolding an illness began several months ago that started slowly, then its pace picked up in the spring going into summer. Surgery is required and will be done in the coming weeks. Upon first hearing this I experienced some stress as old issues were stirred up, but that quickly passed. Now this illness has become just another part of my practice.
With the belief in the ‘realness’ of thought slowly dissipating I find myself, for the most part, unaffected by any thought about the surgery. I could because it was not that long ago that my brother went in for surgery only to die a few days later. Yet, as I see it, surgery is something like Schrödinger’s Cat. Any specific result of it is an event that may or may not occur. And whether the cat lives or dies is irrelevant to the life that is unfolding before me right now.
I think those who practice meditation often expect some major spiritual event to occur that will forever transform them and their lives. I know I certainly did. Now I see any such occurrence as just another bit of the scenery of life. No more, and certainly no less worth watching than any other part of this everyday life I’m living.
I suppose if there has been any change in the last year it has been recent. I see that practice is not divorced from living but actually enhances it. When thoughts clear away and the fog lifts there is a certain delight in just living and that is sufficient. Of course, I still have thoughts called ‘preferences’. I prefer, for instance, the absence of discomfort to its presence but I can practice accepting that as a part of the reality of my life.
When he was around seventy years old Kosho Uchiyama published a collection of poems. One titled, “Just Live, Just Die,” reflects what I mean better than I can put it and I will finish this page with it.
The Reality prior to the division into two
Thinking it to be so, or not thinking it to be so
Believing it to be so, or not believing it to be so
We live and die within the profundity of Reality
Whatever we encounter is Buddha-life
This present Reality is Buddha-life
Just living, just dying—within no life or death.