“I Need Life to Slow Down!”

Have you ever found yourself saying, “Life is too busy, I need a vacation… I need life to slow down… then… things will be better.” I know that I have. I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of this busy life we all live. Sometimes I feel as if I don’t even have time to breath. I mean, who can with work, relationships, responsibilities, social media, children, family, hobbies, chores, things, colors, plans and ideas? If only “things” could slow down.

Surprise! Wish granted! Technically, life could not be much slower in my view. I don’t remember a time in my life, personally, where so many businesses were closed, people were out of work, parks were vacant, money was being handed out without the need to punch a clock and cities seemed to be in a freeze frame.

Now, consider these questions:

Do I still have problems? Do I still find myself frustrated at times? Do I still have days I feel stressed out? For me the answers to those questions are, YES… of course I do. And even though this is a simple obvious answer, I continue to fall into the trap thinking I need my outside circumstances to change in order to feel better. Enter impermanence. The good news is that nothing lasts forever. The bad news is that nothing lasts forever.

Some more questions, as I’m a very curious individual…

Recently have you observed yourself thinking, “When things go back to normal all will be better. When this stay at home order is lifted, and I can get back to my normal routine… then… all will be well.” Now, it’s at this point, I begin to become interested in the fact that what I recently asked to be relieved from, because I labeled it as the cause of my dissatisfaction, are the very same things I’m wishing back into my life in an attempt to wrest satisfaction from???

“Not knowing how near the Truth is,
We seek it far away. What a pity!
We are like a person who, in the midst of water,
Cries in thirst so imploringly,
We are like the child of a rich house
Who has wandered away among the poor.”

Many times I have purchased the latest greatest iPhone in an attempt to feel better. Just joking, I would never do that, I only use Samsung products! Many times I have sought out the attention of someone, thinking their validation of me would solve my empty feeling. It never fully solved it. I begin to become aware that none of this is the answer, nor the solution; not even the problem. And, I start to get a sense that I’m looking for answers in the wrong places due to the fact that I’m not getting the results I want. None of this really matters. Well, allow me to rephrase… Outside circumstances, although important, are not the cause of my dissatisfaction to life. And none of “it” really matters, intrinsically, in comparison to my head and my heart.

So, what is the truth? What is normal? What if whatever is happening NOW is what normal is? What if this is as normal as it gets? How could what is happening NOW be anything else other than that…? “Normal” is what IS happening NOW. Realizing this, it became painfully clear to me that I am not very good at being content within normal circumstances.

Fast life = uncomfortable
Slow life = uncomfortable

Maybe it’s not so much what happens outside myself, but more importantly inside myself?

So what can I do? What can I do to start to find the answer about how to solve this riddle. If I become convinced that outside circumstances have no true impact on my internal condition, why am I dissatisfied? How do I find the answer? What truly can I do?

To view this another way – “One does not practice Zen to become a Buddha; one practices it because one is a Buddha from the very beginning.

“Sentient beings are from the very beginning Buddhas.
It is like ice and water: apart from water,
No ice can exist. Outside sentient beings,
Where do we find the Buddhas?”

To know this and to Know this are two different things. So again… What can I do?

Do Nothing.
Sit Down.
Eyes Open.
Back Straight.
Don’t Miss a Breath.

By doing this; going back to the cushion. Over and over…. and over again. And again after that… I start to become hip to the fact that everything that I need to solve the riddle fits perfectly on my cushion. I begin to see that I am already It.

“At this moment, what more need we seek?
As the Truth eternally reveals Itself,
This very place is the Lotus Paradise!
This very body is the Buddha!”
~Song of Zazen (Hollow Bones Sutra Book p.39-40)

~Kin Shin, Stephen J. D’Antonio

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