Most of us live our lives hungry - hungry for love,
attention, praise, success. But no matter how much we
take in, itís hard to be satisfied. The pleasure lasts
for a little while and then before long weíre craving
more. It is easy to spend each day waiting for tomorrow
when we will get what we dream of, arrive at our goal,
find a new job, have good weather, or finally,
magically, meet the love of our life. Then things will
be better. Right?
Wrong. When tomorrow comes itís another day, just
like this one. Unless we know what this day is, and how
to live it fully and truly, the joy we dream of never
comes. Or if the joy and success does come, it lasts a
few moments and then leaves us oddly insecure.
After getting what we have wanted or worked for, for
a long time, there can be a strange emptiness. Is this
all there is, many ask? Others become afraid to lose
what they have found Ė and start grasping it tightly.
Others just want more, greed arises, hunger, addiction.
In Zen itís called being a hungry ghost- someone at a
banquet who eats and eats, but is still unable to taste
the food, feel full or be nourished by it.
The good news is that there are ways to live which
allow us to eat, digest and be nourished all that comes
to us. Many have no idea how to do this. They become so
driven chasing the elusive golden ring on the endless
merry go round, they lose the fun of the ride. They may
not have even realized the ride is over, the sun has
gone down and itís time to go home. Some have even
forgotten where home is.
Zen practice is about stopping the merry go round of
our minds and heart. We take our attention off the
prizes we think are waiting for us, somewhere else,
someday, if we were only good enough. We take our
attention off being good enough, and realize weíre
good enough now. At this very moment we are that which
we seek so fervently.
How To Take The First Step?
Stop For A Moment
Practice is about stopping. We stop our usual way of
running, moving, chasing, fixing, thinking, doing and
take a breath. Just a simple breath, just like one we
take every moment of our lives, but pay no attention to.
The first step is to take charge of our focus and pay
attention to whatís happening right here, under our
eyes, to the breath we are taking, this very moment.
Where will that get me, some ask? They do not realize
that without this very precious breath and the next one
that follows it, they would not be anywhere. Strange,
isnít it, how we take this breath for granted. What
else do we take for granted? Itís worthwhile to look
Exercise: Pay Attention
Consider for a moment what you pay attention to all
day long. What seems important to you, what do you take
for granted and hardly attend to at all? Write it down.
Do not judge your answers. Be honest and simple. As you
keep track all week long, youíll be amazed at what
claims your attention, what you give your precious life
We take so much for granted, as though it will be
here for us forever - our breath, our children, our
health, our spouses. But all is given for a short while.
All comes into our lives and eventually goes and we may
never even have taken the time to realize what was
As we live most of our lives paying attention to the
dreams created by our racing, yearning, scheming minds,
we are allow our Monkey Mind to rule us. The monkey mind
is the mind that hops from branch to branch, person to
person, job to job, desire to desire, thought to
thought. It always wants more and more, never feels good
and doesnít now how to say thank you. It is unruly,
reactive, unhappy and cannot be made to feel content. It
chatters endlessly and is an expert in spoiling, judging
and criticizing everything.
That Monkey Mind lives in us all. Sometimes it is
very loud in our lives. Other times it settles down for
awhile. This monkey mind pursues that which has no value
and doesnít know how to find that which it is yearning
for. In order to fill our hungry hearts, we must learn
how to recognize and dissolve this monkey mind, to take
our attention away from it, to turn our focus to what
Exercise: Stop The Monkey Mind
Spend some time getting to know how the Monkey Mind
is operating in your life. Much of the misery we go
through and blame on others, has nothing to do is simply
the effects of our own monkey mind. The first step is
becoming aware of its thoughts, deeds, impulses. We need
not hate, reject or try to get rid of it, just to
recognize whatís going on. This recognition takes its
power away.. As we learn to make friends with this part
of ourselves we help it to settle down and take its
When a sense of hunger, loneliness, dissatisfaction
and craving comes, donít blame it on others, or on
circumstances. Instead, stop and look within. Know it is
the monkey mind that is robbing you of the joy and
fulfillment that is your natural birthright.
As you pay attention, stay in the present and take
power back from the monkey mind, little by little you
will be returning to your original nature. This nature
is beyond words and thoughts. It is the part of yourself
which knows the truth, which is kind and filled with
clarity and satisfaction. This part of yourself will
take over as you continue to practice paying attention,
staying in the moment, and truly experience all that
comes to you.
Everyday life and the struggles it brings, will
become transformed into a series of moments that are
fresh and new. You then take your newfound focus and are
able to ďbe hereĒ in a brand new way. Not only does
this eliminate hunger, dissatisfaction and cravings, but
it brings new spaciousness and possibilities to those
you interact with as well.