Heartbreak Wisdom Journal — Entry 11: Just Live

The following is a long quote from Dainin Katagiri’s You Have to Say Something: Manifesting Zen Insight. When I read this for the first time a couple of months ago, it took my breath away. It’s been a guiding principle for practice and daily life, by that I mean practicing through the moments of daily life, ever since. If there’s something that has gotten me through the difficulties apparent in my last two Heartbreak Wisdom Journal entries, it’s wise teachings like this. If you don’t find a way to handle each day well and with equanimity, you’ll yearn for escape, and when going through negative emotional terrain, this yearning for escape can be most dire and dark. I hope that you too will be inspired by this and use it as a compass in your daily life as well.


As I mentioned, it is easy to become fed up with daily routine. You do the same thing, day after day, until finally you don’t know what the purpose of human life is. Human life just based on daily routine seems like a huge trap. We don’t want to look at this, so we don’t pay attention to daily routine. We get up in the morning and have breakfast, but we don’t pay attention to breakfast. Quickly and carelessly, we drink coffee and go to work.

But if you don’t pay attention, you will eat breakfast recklessly, you will go to work recklessly, you will drive recklessly, and you will go to sleep recklessly. Finally, you will be fed up with your daily routine. This is human suffering, and it fills everyday life.

The important point is that we can neither escape everyday life nor ignore it. We have to live by means of realizing the original nature of the self right in the middle of daily routine, without destroying daily routine, and without attaching to it. When it is time to get up, just get up. Even though you don’t like it, just get up. Getting up will free you from the fact that you have to get up.

Even though you don’t like your life, just live. Even though death will come sooner or later, just live. The truth of life is just to live. This is no attachment. Zen practice is to be fully alive in each moment. Only by this living activity can you take care of your everyday life.

-Dainin Katagiri, You Have to Say Something: Manifesting Zen Insight, pp. xv-xvi.

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Being fully alive in every moment–even in that of washing the dishes


“Zen practice is to be fully alive in each moment.” This does not mean indulgence, chasing your desires, or trying to set up a string of moments you want. On the contrary, this means to fully be with whatever is at hand: for instance, fully present to washing the dishes, even if you don’t like it. Instead of an endless array of likes and wants–Katagiri says in this book that desires are endless: not the goal of a practice of nonattachment–just live in this moment, whatever arises. Being fully alive in this moment doesn’t mean yearning for something else and attaching to that yearning. Not that yearning is bad; if it comes up, let it be, but don’t invest in it. Don’t spin it. Don’t attach to it. That’s wishing for this moment to end, to be dead. That’s being dead in this moment.

May this inspire you to find the strength to just be in your life, to just live. May your practice allow you to live fully in each moment, without attachment, without mistaking presence in every moment with only showing up to the moments you want to have happen/trying to acquire as many of those moments as possible. May this help you smile at every moment, liked or disliked, without escapism.

Gassho!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Avril
    Jul 28, 2015 @ 07:42:11

    This practice does take discipline and yes if you can do it by bringing the presence to each and every moment it is enlivening. But life is a paradox and I have acted upon an inner itch, a feeling of meaningless, by doing that it has taken me on some wonderful adventures and meeting some incredible souls and learning from other cultures. Would I have done that had I tried to train myself to live in the moment only and not seek to escape? Now having gone on these adventures I am much more settled inside but still open to any calling that my emotions may indicate. I guess it’s knowing the difference between a passing superficial desire and an actual calling. that also takes practice. Love your posts they are very thought provoking………..

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    • zeuslyone
      Jul 30, 2015 @ 00:05:52

      Hey again Avril,
      We’re getting a regular conversation going across the posts. It’s great! I really value what you have been saying, this included. It took me a while to mull over what you’re saying here and where it connects with the message of this post. I’m not imply that we should never do anything outside a routine. In fact, the quote doesn’t really say much about how we go out and explore the world. However, I did come to the conclusion that there’s a difference between deciding that the time is ripe to go out to explore and just exploring because you don’t want to be in the moment you’re in. I take that as being what you’re saying at the end of my comment. When your routines are open to adventure, and the way beckons, walk it.
      Furthermore, this isn’t meant to imply that either one of those is “bad” in a moralistic way. I think the whole point of this is how we deal with the routine of day to day. That’s all it directly addresses. It doesn’t say at all how to deal with the situations that don’t happen all the time. Most people have routines that they have to address on a daily basis; even on an adventure, you’re going to have to wake up, eat, and hopefully, brush your teeth. 🙂 It’s easy to tune out of these routines, to do them “recklessly”, to fall out of touch with them, find them boring, and want to escape them, even if just in the sense of not paying attention to them when doing them. In a larger sense, especially when we don’t like our lives, it’s easy to really want to run away from the grind and to even act upon that. I guess that’s the extension where my comments led to your insights. I wasn’t trying to say: “Don’t go meet new people; that’s bad.” I was however indicating that sitting with these moments actually makes them more liveable rather than imagining a more perfect life somewhere else. I’ve seen the escapist desire lead to some very selfish and hurtful behavior to oneself and others, and in moments of depression/heartbreak, I think that can lead to the desire to die. Those pains only add on to the moment that is actually not such a big deal if one relaxes into it. That’s the point of inspiration I’m trying to get at. Thanks for drawing it out better than my previous comments!

      Thanks for the ongoing support. I really appreciate seeing you here again.

      Best Wishes and deep bow (Gassho!),
      Z.

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  2. Michael
    Aug 03, 2015 @ 23:54:53

    Thanks for the inspiration. I loved this quote, too, and nearly laughed out loud of the use of reckless in the quote. It spoke to me about the vast movement rolled into the stillness, always on the verge of breaking through, and that’s where we live… Tapping that in every moment… It left me feeling the rising moon is reckless…! Driving to work, resisting life, staying in my lane is the same type of recklessness… What’s he getting at!? Ha! I love when that feeling comes– that what’s he getting at!? feeling that arises in a way that recklessly exposes the answer… 🙂

    Blessings
    Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • zeuslyone
      Aug 04, 2015 @ 00:00:57

      Deep Gratitude, Michael,

      I’m glad that this quote gave you pause to consider what it is to be present– tapping into the vast movement rolled into the stillness of every moment, silently unfolding into the miracle that’s occurring right here, right always. 🙂

      Gassho,
      Zack

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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