our life force

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[This is the second of two sequential talks. The first talk is “Mind”. ]

In an earlier talk, we considered “mind” as experienced by the Chan (Zen) master Linji (Rinzai). He said:

Followers of the Way, mind is without form and pervades the ten directions [i.e., it’s everywhere]. In the eye it is called seeing, in the ear hearing, in the nose it smells odors, in the mouth it holds converse, in the hands it grasps and seizes, and in the feet it moves and runs. Fundamentally it is a single subtle radiance divided into six sensory perceptions. Yet since this mind is nothing, one is free, wherever one is!

He further says (and I’m paraphrasing here), “This [mind] is nothing other than who you are, listening to my discourse right now before my very eyes.” Here, mind is just this, exactly. Now, listen to the words of Jesuit Fr. Thomas Hand, our own Hando, who offered the following words in a teaching:

[I]f we sit and really go into true meditation, we go into what we like to call the Flow. There is one Great Movement that is our fundamental life movement, our life force into action. That movement and action come directly from our fundamental Divine Source. We are nothing but that movement manifested in that hour of sitting [meditation], and when we forget all our waywardness, forget everything and just open and allow the attention of our heart to bring us into that Flow, at that moment we are pure – impeccable.
[from Crossing Over Together, a collection of Hando’s dharma talks, published in 2004]

It seems to me that these two passages are getting at the same thing, the same message about Being, about oneness, and ultimately about mind. Fr. Hand says, “We are nothing but that movement [and action, coming directly from our fundamental Divine Source] manifested in that hour of sitting…” Sitting, standing, seeing, hearing, talking, running … whatever. Our fundamental Divine Source. Different language, same experience.

I present these two teachings in concert to illuminate the experiential truths that have been realized and taught by masters throughout the ages – from the Zen Buddhist masters of old to the Christian adepts of our own time, and doubtless other spiritually oriented teachers. Being is what it is; there’s nothing outside it. Or within it, for that matter. It’s “Just this.”

And our sitting practice – whether we call it zazen, contemplation, or centering prayer – or some other practice that lifts us out of our egocentric way of being – our practice allows us to come into union with that mind, that Divine Source. That fundamental life force.

How that union shows up in our daily living is a function of the causes and conditions that inform the phenomenal beings that we are – who we are in the world. But according to most of our religions, that union manifests as wisdom and compassion and justice and, most importantly, love.

As The Beatles song has it, ‘Love is all we need.’ And there you have it.