Everyday Zen: Love and Work (Plus) by Charlotte J. Beck

By Charlotte J. Beck

Daily Zen deals a hot, enticing, uniquely American method of utilizing Zen to house the issues of day-by-day living--love, relationships, worry, ambition, discomfort. Beck exhibits how one can stay each one second to the fullest.

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It’s called attention. Attention is the cutting, burning sword, and our practice is to use that sword as much as we can. None of us is very willing to use it; but when we do—even for a few minutes—some cutting and burning takes place. All practice aims to increase our ability to be attentive, not just in zazen but in every moment of our life. As we sit we grasp that our conceptual thought process is a fantasy; and the more we grasp this the more our ability to pay attention to reality increases.

That’s why we label thoughts, to take the investment out again. When we’ve been sitting long enough we can see our thoughts as just pure sensory input. And we can see ourselves moving through the stages preliminary to that: at first we feel our thoughts are real, and out of that we create the self-centered emotions, and out of that we create the barrier to seeing life as it is; 30 because if we are caught in self-centered emotions we can’t see people or situations clearly. A thought in itself is just pure sensory input, an energy fragment.

We want to worry through all of our preoccupations. We want to figure life out. And so before we know it we’ve forgotten all about this moment, and we’ve drifted off into thinking about something: our boyfriend, our girlfriend, our child, our boss, our current fear…off we go! There’s nothing sinful about such fantasizing except that when we’re lost in that, we’ve lost something else. When we’re lost in thought, when we’re dreaming, what have we lost? We’ve lost reality. Our life has escaped us.

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