Life is boundless joy
Ah, life. I can’t live without it! You probably feel the same way. What is this stuff called life that we long for ? Well, life is not meant not to be analyzed, dissected with logic, or torn apart with questions. After all, “By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower” (Rabindrath Tagore, 1861 ~ 1941). Like the beauty of the flower, life needs to be experienced.
About 40 years ago I read a poem by the Japanese haiku poet Basho (1644 ~ 1694). It translates to something like this: I nto the old pond / a frog jumps / the sound of water. I understood the poem intellectually, but the poet ‘s intent to share his experience with me was unsuccessful. I didn’t FEEL anything. That is, until recently.
You see, I was admiring a lone, pink lotus blossom in the middle of a small pond encircled by lily pads. The following day, I returned to see the lotus blossom. But when I arrived, the blossom was closed. I stood at the edge of the pond silently. When suddenly – plop! – there was a splash, the sound of water. Looking down I saw a frog. At that moment I understood the experience Basho had more than 300 years earlier. It was the surprise and delight of life expressing itself. Life jolted me from my slumber with a splash and said, “Here I am! Stay awake!”
How about you? Have you ever walked down a path, oblivious to the beauty that surrounded you? If you are like most people that probably has happened. You see, we become so involved in our thoughts, concerns, and plans that life slips by unnoticed. When we are lost in our thoughts, we are lost, not living. People who are bored, unhappy, or angry are also examples of those who are lost; they are among the living dead.
However, if we take the time and make an effort, we can reawaken to the joys of life. Perhaps writing a little about its experience may help rekindle it in others. With that thought in mind, I’ll begin.
What is life? It is the power that created our home, a universe of unfathomable size. This incredible power is surging through you at this very moment. If you listen attentively you may hear its faint voice. It is calling. Listen as it speaks to you:
“I want you to become all that you can be. I want you to become all that you were meant to be.
“I want you to do those things you would like to do, but are afraid of doing . For it is only by relentlessly smashing through your fears that you will be able to experience me fully. Only then will you know exhilaration. Only then will you exalt me.
“Turn your eyes away from yourself and your fears. Focus on me. Feel me. Sense me. Can’t you see I am here to support you? Don’t you realize that with the power I freely give you, you can do and be anything?
“I want you to share in my grandeur. I want you to do great things. Great things need not be big. The smallest of acts can be great. Acts like patience, kindness, and generosity are small yet have great impact.
“I want to express my glory through you. But when your attention drifts away from my presence, my expression and your growth are impeded. Just as trees stretch their limbs to touch the sky, I want you to stretch yourself and awaken to your limitless potential.
“Please… I’m pleading… Awaken to my presence. Embrace me. Become overwhelmed by my majesty. Drink of the boundless joy I have to offer and share it with others. I am a treasure waiting to be discovered. When you embrace me, you have everything, for I am all that is.”
Did the pleas of life resonate with you? Some of you may be saying, “I felt a little inspired, but I don’t feel the fire. I wish I could believe it is all true.”
Well, it’s not about belief; it’s about experience. Once you dive into the depths of life and experience it fully you will know the truth. From ancient times to the present moment, many men and women have experienced their true selves and the true nature of life. They include poets, Sufi mystics, yogis, saints, Zen and Buddhist monks, and seekers of every tradition.
What they all shared in common was a direct experience of their true selves and life. By direct experience I mean knowledge that doesn’t flow from our mind (concepts, assumptions, beliefs, opinions, conclusions), but wordless knowledge that springs from the very essence of life itself. After experiencing it, however, we need to use words if we wish to talk about it to others.
The direct experience is usually referred to as Enlightenment, Awakening, Satori, Kensho, Self-Realization, or Nirvana. Until recently it took many years of meditation to experience enlightenment. However, in 1968 Charles Berner, who died in 2007, established a new process called the Enlightenment Intensive. In this intensive workshop ordinary people experience enlightenment in just 3 ~ 4 days.
Today, Enlightenment Intensives are regularly held in as many as 20 countries. You can learn all about the intensives in the book: The Enlightenment Intensive by Lawrence Noyes, 1998. It is available at Amazon.com. You can also download for free a more advanced manual written by Charles Berner and Mona Sosna at http://www.charlesberner.org/Design/manual1.html. Also, you can learn a great deal more by Googling “The Enlightenment Intensive.”
In Ontario Canada, Enlightenment Intensives have been held through True Source Seminars (http://www.TrueSourceSeminars.com).
The more curious you are and the more you stand rapt in wonder and awe at the mystery of life, the more you will gain from enlightenment, for as the Japanese Zen Master, Calligrapher, and Poet, Muso Kokushi (1275 ~ 1351) taught, “There is great enlightenment where there has been great wonder.”
There are two other books dealing with this subject that you may find helpful: Instant Enlightenment, by David Deida, Sounds True, 2007 and Instant Zen: Waking Up in the Present, by Thomas Cleary (translator), North Atlantic Books, 1994. You can read customer reviews of both books at Amazon.com.
We cannot fully express the joy of life without humor, so I’ll end with some Zen humor (you may have to think about it for a moment before you get it):
Q: What does a Zen monk say to a hot dog stand vendor?
A: Make me one with everything.
Q: What does the vendor say when the monk asks for change for his twenty dollar bill?
A: Change comes from within.