“Our present direction is clearly defined but without having a
goal. When we stop projecting goals and hopes in the future, and refuse to be
led around by them, yet work to clarify our lives, that is, the “direction” of
the present, then we discover an alive and dynamic practice”. -- Uchiyama Roshi
Our practice is perfect in each moment and yet we have a direction
towards Buddha.” –Dogen Zenji
Year after year, I had the same New Year’s resolutions. The exact same ones! This is quite discouraging and often
leads to an animosity and cynicism towards New Year’s resolutions and endless
self-improvement goals. My husband
who is an avid and consistent exerciser, laughs at this time of year because, in
January, the health clubs are inundated with New Year’s Resolution people.
Buddha made the 2nd limb of the 8-fold
path Right Intention or, another translation, Right Thought. This indicates the importance of our life intentions and our vows to the direction our life goes. Dogen writes that we should have a
direction of going towards Buddha even though every moment is absolutely imbued
with Buddha. We still should have
a direction of going towards are vows and for Mahayana Buddhists, we can say
going towards the expression of the Bodhisattva Vows in our unique life.
So every year, the Clouds in Water Community takes a day,
the first Saturday in January, to have a life review. How is it going, our intention to live towards our
vows? How did our life go last
year and what is our direction this year?
I liken it to a North Star.
What is the most important thing?
What is our true heart’s desire? That is our North Star. Even though our path is curvy, and goes
off course, we can constantly adjust back to our North Star if we have clarity
about what and where it is.
I have begun to restructure my idea of New Year’s
Resolutions. I have over-all vows
in my life that I am constantly, moment-to-moment aligning myself with. This is why the resolutions repeat year after year. They’re never really finished. The most important things are never
finished or resolved. They are our
An intentional life, a mindful life, an aware life has to
have a clear and firm direction even though we don’t hold on to the results of
our actions. We have to cultivate
the conditions for our goals to manifest even though they don’t show themselves in our
pre-conceived way. Life is a
continuous surprise with continuous interruptions and obstacles. Each day, each
present moment, we adjust and navigate towards are Right intentions.
This is the paradox:
can we have a direction to our life and yet, not hold on to the results
of our actions.
Dogen Zenji so clearly states that we should not be living
our life with the intention of fame and gain. But usually our goals all land on the side of pleasure,
gain, success and praise. Can we
have a unique understanding of the direction our karmic life is going in this
next year, create the most positive conditions we can for that clarity and manifestation, and then
let go of the results of our actions?
With a clear mind, true sincerity and in accordance to the actual
situation we are in, can we throw our life force into every situation and allow
it to come to life and fruition.
Allow our self and our life to settle into itself.
So every year I develop a North Star unique to my karmic
situation of the moment. This
contemplation can manifest as a few sound bytes or a few succinct themes that
will keep my mindfulness and awareness focused and help me make decisions and
prioritize my actions. The clearer
my mind is about my direction, the easier it is to align my actions with my
spiritual intentions. The clearer
my intentions, the clearer my present moment activities.
Labels: Direction in mindfulness, Dogen. Right Intention, goals, intention, life review, present moment's direction, right Thought, Uchiyama roshi, vow