Everyone has experienced life's classic dilemmas: Should I do this, or should I do that? Should I buy this, or should I buy that? Should I be here, or should I be there? We tend to resolve these questions by analysis and rationality, but when we look carefully we see that our choices usually aren't rational; more often they are a decision of the heart. It's essential that we cultivate the intuitive aspect of our consciousness so see beyond just two sides of a question. We separate the world into ourselves and everything outside ourselves, and this creates a false prison we don't know how to escape. By allowing ourselves to be spontaneous and intuitive, we can be present in the current moment, and this gives us the capacity to nourish the world around us.
Zen Buddhism emphasizes zazen, or seated meditation, as the means to study the self and understand who we truly are. Dharma talks are an essential aspect of Zen training and take place in the context of zazen. Said to be "dark to the mind and radiant to the heart", a dharma talk is one of the ways in which a teacher points directly to the heart of the teachings of the Buddha. In our meditation practice, it is easy to get lost in self-doubt, fantasy, numbness, and emotional agitation. Dharma talks help to ground our practice, providing inspiration and an essential recognition of exactly where we find ourselves, so that we can learn to face difficulties and obstacles with a free and flexible mind. This talk was given at Zen Mountain Monastery or the Zen Center of New York City of the Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen Buddhism, founded in 1980 by the late American Zen Master John Daido Loori, Roshi (1931-2009).
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