(Follow this link to see the June 2021 Priory Newsletter where this was published.)
The next section, the second of the four practices, begins with (from the Red Pine translation):
“Second, adapting to conditions. As mortals, we’re ruled by conditions, not by ourselves. All the suffering and joy we experience depend on conditions. If we should be blessed by some great reward, such as fame or fortune, it’s the fruit of a seed planted by us in the past. When conditions change, it ends. Why delight In Its existence? But while success and failure depend on conditions, the mind neither waxes nor wanes. Those who remain unmoved by the wind of joy silently follow the Path.”
Again, from our verse encapsulating the four practices:
Acceptance of suffering
The seeking of nothing
We might say that our entry into this second practice is Sitting Unmoved. Sitting unmoved, in this context, is the bringing the mind of meditation into every activity. Rev. Master Jiyu would describe the mind of meditation or, one who was practicing this mind of meditation, as being like a spinning top which is very active on the outside but is still at the center.
We engage in our ordinary lives with the appearance of an ordinary person, even while working on sitting still in all things. (It is possible!)
In his work the “Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of life” the Indian monk Shantideva (c685-763 CE) poses an interesting question:
Where would I possibly find enough leather
With which to cover the surface of the earth?
And answers it with:
But (wearing) leather just on the soles of my shoes.
Is equivalent to covering the earth with it.
Although we can become quite skillful in handling many areas that we are familiar with, we can’t possibly predict or control every condition we might encounter in our lives. But we can learn to meet each situation from the mind of meditation. And we can learn to convert the obstacles we carry around in our own minds and hearts; the obstacles to taking refuge in the mind of meditation.
Sitting unmoved is like giving ourselves a sturdy pair of shoes with which to dance through the many obstacles and changes life presents to us. Adapting our minds to conditions, is the conversion, the bringing to peace all of the diverse sufferings we carry around with us by applying the mind of meditation and the Buddhadharma to our lives; this is like stitching up the holes that appear in our sturdy shoes.
This process of healing our inner suffering is how we learn to remain unmoved by the wind of joy and silently follow the Path.
To be continued ….