practice

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In the doing I become
A-Life
Finally going nowhere

 

In the practice, I become alive. Probably this page could do with just that. As a basic ingredient of the monastic life, the practice is what it all comes down to. The Monastery is based on the sharing of meditation, prayer, and other activities, but also more mundane tasks like cleaning, eating, learning to speak to each other with attention, using the space without making it impossible for the other, shopping with awareness, … Without any ‘master narrative’ to guide our lives, the practice becomes the main reference point for the spiritual life-work. Without any kind of explicative framework (of science, God, Gaia or any other kind) the situation is always there to be experienced in its fullness. It can never be claimed and ordered in advance. It can not be reduced to a category that precedes or overrides it.

To practice is to try to stick to what is actually there. The breath, the warm water in which you wash the dishes, the snoring of the cat, the emotion that erupts through the serene morning meditation, the dust whirling up in the light. It is a simple doing that goes beyond conceptual thinking, towards a direct experience of being present to the particular situation you are in. Which is always different. There is nothing to explain or understand. There is no ontological truth to be unveiled. There is only the slow ‘falling backwards into my arms again’: to reconnect to what Zen master Dogen called ‘the original intimacy’.

A practice like that demands surrender. A discipline of letting go. Of what we think we have to be. Of what we think we are. At that point, life no longer happens in the future. There is only movement, stillness, awareness, attention. The more we practice, the more we come alive.