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“Those who are attached only to the result of their effort will not have any chance to appreciate it, because the result will never come. But if moment by moment your effort arises from its pure origin, all you do will be good, and you will be satisfied with whatever you do”
– Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind

What is pure origin? Pure origin is emptiness, silence, nothingness. Pure origin is that from which we come, and to that which we become at the end of our brief journey. We come from nothingness, and we return to nothingness.

Even when we are here for a few fleeting moments on earth, we are largely, if not mostly emptiness, mostly nothingness. We are emptiness of space, emptiness of thought, emptiness of senses, mostly pure emptiness.

Our challenge is that our senses are not attuned to detect the emptiness, the silence, the stillness, the nothingness. Quite the opposite – our senses are there to detect images, sounds, smells, aromas, tastes and sensations which permeate the emptiness that is pure origin. Even our mind is tuned to detect the mental sensations that fill pure origin – thoughts, emotions, mental chatter, and all other forms of mental traffic.

So what are we to do to sense the pure origin, to sense nothingness and silence, to sense emptiness and stillness?

The best technique is none at all
– Henry Miller

We sit. Just sit.

We sit with the focus on the one point, the Hara – center of our perception. We sit with mind becoming one with the Hara. We sit with Hara, for the Hara is the only place where pure origin can be sensed. We sit with Hara, for the Hara is pure origin – the Hara is stillness, silence, nothingness, emptiness.

From Hara, we can grow the stillness, the silence to envelope us, then slowly to envelope our home, our city, our country, our world, our universe.

In each breath, we can grow the Hara to envelope the space around us with stillness, with silence, with nothingness. And when enough breathes have been taken, we can sit within the sphere which the Hara has created for us, and within the sacred space of pure origin see the images our eyes capture, hear the sounds our ears observe, smell and taste the molecules the environment submits to us, and sense the temperature and breeze our bodies detect.

But unlike when we simply sense, when within the Hara, we sense all against the backdrop, the totality which is pure origin, pure emptiness, pure silence, pure stillness. Pure nothingness. As such, pure nothingness is not filled, it is not replaced, it is not substituted by the senses – it becomes the vessel within which all occurs.

Pure origin therefore also becomes the space within which thoughts and emotions, urges and impulses – all mental sensations also manifest.

And in the moment that you begin to sense against the totality which is pure origin both your physical and mental sensations – without eradicating pure origin – you remain pure origin. You remain stillness. You remain silence. You remain nothingness.

You remain what you have always been, and always will be – your pure origin.

Your practice must bring you in touch with your pure origin. If it does not, it is not practice rooted in pure origin.

Practice being one with Pure origin, with your Hara enveloping the universe entire – and you will sense and perceive with detachment, with harmony, with pure and total perception.

Practice being one with Hara, and you will become the ongoing response to the truth of the world.

Practice, and you will begin your journey returning to your pure origin, your absolute truth – the stillness, silence and emptiness within which the Ki of the universe manifests.

Just sit. And practice.

“Action does not depend on thought, feeling, emotions. Actions depend on your perception at every moment”
– Kenjiro Yoshigasaki

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“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” ~Chinese Proverb

An unfettered mind is a mind free to respond. No reaction, no urgency, no rushing – calm, flowing response. Like a river rushing, it rushes no faster than gravity or the river bed will permit. The river doesn’t react, it responds to the forces of the earth, the curves of the ground, the winds overhead. And when the winds cease and the ground levels out, then the river returns to its original state – just water.

Our practice is to slow down and return to our original state, so that we can know it when we revisit the torrential river.

Our practice is to cultivate attention to the point where we can experience whatever arises, without reacting, by remaining in the original state of relaxation and complete awareness.

“the practice of meditation is the study of what is going on”
– thich nhat hahn

Our practice is to become fully aware, fully mindful of the absolute present, with complete acceptance, for when something arises in your experience that you cannot experience, you go to reaction rather than response. When the moment is not accepted as the result of all the moments which came before it, you cease to respond to the reality that is the absolute present, and move to the past or future minds, where fears, wants and desires reside.

Our practice needs to cultivate a level of attention so that we can experience whatever arises – thereby not needing to fall into reaction. Our practice needs to cultivate not only our ability to see and sense the experiences around us, but to see the, at the pace at which they are occuring, at the times that they are occurring – and not at the pace or time that we wished they occurred. Wishing them differently is attachment. Attachment is tension. Tension is the root of reaction.

Accepting them as they are is detachment. Detachment is relaxation. Relaxation is the root of responding.

As Ken McLeod expressed, our practice is to experience we are free to respond to what the situation actually requires – not what the situation is provoking in us. All situations are gifts, for they all can provoke a reaction from us. Mild reactions and severe reactions. Harsh reactions and pleasant reactions. Our practice should be a practice of equanimity – one where our reactions are replaced by our responses. From the outside, our responses may appear the same, if not identical to our reaction – but it is not a reaction.

And in that moment, as inspired by Ken McLeod, we can then become an ongoing response to the pain and suffering of the world.

Our practice is to find the harmony, the balance, the equanimity to become an ongoing response, a continuous set of responses, moment after moment, second-by-second responses to each infinite moment.

And when you find yourself reacting, having broken the ongoing response, slow down, breathe deeply, and return to your practice – thereby returning to the journey of becoming an ongoing response to the pain, the suffering, the truth of each moment presented to us.

“Restore your attention or bring it to a new level by dramatically slowing down whatever you’re doing.” – Sharon Salzberg

The following is fully inspired by, and heavily borrowed from, the 5 principles of a profound workday, courtesy of Leo Babauta. I highly recommend Leo’s words for inspiration and solace.

‘Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.’ ~Laozi

The Profound Visit to the Dojo

1. Empty: In Silence and Solitude. When your mind is full, you have no room for change. When your thoughts are full of noise, you have no space to think.

Empty your mind. When you have an empty mind, you can fill it with anything. Only with this emptiness can you create something truly different.

Clear your thoughts. Find space for silence and solitude. With this space you’ll be free, free to see the truth, to create beauty.

2. Slow and Mindful. Rushing paradoxically leaves us with less time — speed means we don’t pay attention, and so the moments on the mat disappear rapidly and leave us before we notice.

Slow down, and pay attention. You’ll be able to focus on your movements more, and though you’ll do less, you’re technique will be more profound.

Be mindful of every movement, small or large. Enjoy every motion.

3. Profoundly Creative. Don’t use the gift of your visit to the mat for mindless repetitive tasks. Don’t end the visit with nothing to show for your work.

Start each visit by creating. Make the space at the beginning of your visit to the mat to create, before you get lost in rushing, urgency, or the desire to see the end of the class.

Create something amazing. Delight your Sensei and your ukes. Leave them amazed, wanting to not end the session. for you.

4. Simplified. The principles for a profound visit to the dojo might seem difficult to most people, because there just isn’t the instinct or desire to do less. The only way to create this type of visit to the dojo is to simplify.

It’s the key to everything else. Subtract. Pare everything down to its essence.

What’s on your mind right now? What are the principles that actually need to be present in your practice? Remove everything else.

What do you do every time you visit the dojo? How many of those things can be eventually pared down? Be simplified?

Simplify, and you’ll be able to find emptiness, solitude, silence, slowness, and mindfulness in your practice.

5. Flexible and Natural. This type of visit to the dojo might start to sound rigid, but in truth when you create space you also allow yourself the flexibility to deal in the moment with any change, any attack.

The natural flow of things is change, and if we are rigid we aren’t able to deal with changes. We become frustrated, anxious, angry, flustered.

If instead we have no expectations of what will happen each visit, and deal with changes as they come, we let go of that frustration and anxiety.

Be open to whatever happens. Be flexible. Deal with change as it happens, and you’ll find true profoundness doesn’t come from within us, or from external sources, but in the space between the two.

It comes from the eternal space between all things.

It comes from the universal Ki.

‘Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.’ ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry