Posted inValerie's Messages, Videos

Message from Valerie: Step by Step

April 5, 2023

Being on the Way without ever leaving home. Being at home without ever leaving the Way.

–Joan Rieck Roshi

This past Saturday, Mountain Cloud embarked on another 30 Days of Zen offering. Thanks ring out to Sarah Giffin for organizing the course, curating the daily emails, and lending her wise and welcoming way to a new cohort of participants. (It’s not too late to join!)

How fitting to begin this fresh exploration of daily practice, ‘Living Zen,’ on April 1st – April Fool’s Day.

Ryokan (1758-1831), the Japanese poet, calligrapher, and Zen monk who left the monastery to live and practice in the ordinary day-to-day world, went by the name “Great Fool.” It happens that Ryokan loved to play with children, to eschew rules and standards, to delight in the company of villagers, to create art on a whim, and to practice and study in the simplest of settings. (He was devoted to Dogen.) Still, the name, Great Fool, points beyond the particularities of Ryokan’s life to a wide freedom and to an orientation that is often characterized as beginner’s mind.

Beginner’s mind: the mind of compassion, as Suzuki Roshi aptly put it. A state of mind that is open, unobscured by preconceived expectations or preferences, having no fixed purchase from which to judge. A ‘mind’ that is available to countless possibilities and, possibly, poised to discover – to taste and see – a world of infinite possibilities. Not some ‘other’ world, but right here. Right where you sit.

Among his many verses, Ryokan wrote a message to us as we begin the journey of practice, again and again; always here, now – exactly where you are:

Traveling and traveling,
I arrived at the mountain of treasures,
Only to realize it was none other than
My own temporary dwelling.

No need to go anywhere and yet, we travel. We take up this practice. Step by step, never leaving home.

With love and support,

Photo by Kvnga on Unsplash

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