Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

No Gaining Mind

Published in Blog.

This morning I returned to meditating, with a recording on “Mushotoku” (or: no gaining mind). I hope to return to this simple meditation each morning this week. While largely guided, it was in the silent period of the meditation that my mind took to the practice of counting my breath, which blended with a concept that I had read this morning in Jean Smith’s The Beginner’s Guide to Zen Buddhism, which references a passage from Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind,

“When we practice zazen our mind always follows our breathing. When we inhale, the air comes into the inner world. When we exhale, the air goes out to the outer world. The inner world is limitless, and the outer world is also limitless. We say ‘inner world’ or ‘outer world,’ but actually there is just one whole world. In this limitless world, our throat is like a swinging door. The air comes in and goes out like someone passing through a swinging door. If you think, ‘I breathe,’ the ‘I’ is extra. There is no you to say ‘I.’ What we call ‘I’ is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. It just moves; that is all. When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing: no ‘I,’ no world, no mind nor body; just a swinging door.”

One, inner world. One, outer world… Two, inner world. Two, outer world… I made it to eight before the guide returned, though I kept breathing through his dialog until I reached the count of ten.

This morning I changed my sitting position, for the first time ever, from half-lotus (which usually reverts to me sitting cross-legged) to seiza position, where I was sitting back on my bent knees with a small pillow in between my legs, gently supporting my body. My posture was noticeably more upright, and not once did I require shifting my weight or collapsing my body forward due to discomfort. This might be the “right” position for me.

This morning an email came though with information on the Nashville Public Library’s Summer Reading Challenge, which promotes logging minutes read from now through August 21 while offering prizes for certain thresholds of reading time. I signed up, figuring it was well aligned with what I’m already trying to do with my book-of-the-day idea, where I’m assigning a different book for each day of the week. I might get a little analytical with the process, just to see how it all plays out. This should be fun.