Buoyant zazen conquers all

First thing this morning, I got up and sat. I fixed my attention on a point in the distance and held it there. For the most part. I did have a few drifting moments, but I managed to come back. Bring it back. Draw it back. Don’t sink away. Don’t fade away. Stay. Hold. Buoyant zazen conquers all.

Thinking about what Shosan said — or what Arthur Braverman says he said — I am struck by the focus on cultivating vital energy. This is something that has become utterly critical to me, in the past months. In the face of depleting fatigue and increasing responsibilities, in the face of confusion and frustration and the need to keep going, no matter what, I have been forced of necessity to cultivate my own vital energy and not get pulled down into the sinkhole of vacillation and indecision, to not give in and give up.

Something in me has demanded to press on, and so I have.

This has happened at work and in my personal life. It has happened almost without me realizing it. It has happened because it had to, because I could not go on like I had been, giving in to all the various waves of change, the rising and falling of my energy, interest and motivation. I could not allow myself to be guided by shifting winds that care for nothing other than their constantly shifting nature.

And I have found, in my sitting practice — which is almost daily, sometimes several times a day — that I am much more buoyed these days than I was in the past. Perhaps it is because I am doing so much more with my life than ever before. It may be because I am pushing myself harder, and also working more intentionally with the breath and zazen. It could be because I don’t sit to escape, as I once did. Now I sit to engage. And when I breathe, I do it with the express intention of building my vital energy and rebounding from whatever may have drained me — either recently or in the past.

Sitting, for me these days, is much more about being active, than being passive. Maybe it’s because I don’t need to be passive, anymore. I don’t need to let all the good in. Because at the same time, I know it is already there — where I think it is not — and I also am at the point where I don’t necessarily need to let it all in. Good, bad… it always changes, and you can never tell which is which. So, just sitting and breathing and being… building the energy as I breathe and focus… that is what serves me.

And it is good.

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