At the heart of Zen practice is consciousness.
As individuals of modern society, we are often dependent on others for validation of self. A by-product of this dependency is our adverse reaction towards negative words, negative actions or negative energy from others in our environment. Negativity can overwhelm us, both mentally and physically, if we do not seek to emancipate ourselves from our dependency upon others.
Freedom of self can be achieved by adopting consciousness in all aspects of life and exercising control over one’s mind.
Consciousness is a state often referred to in Zen literature as the ‘original mind’- it is a state of sensuously experiencing life. It is important to clear your mind of any and all assumptions that have come to influence the way in which you interact with society. By anticipating an event we automatically blur our reality: when the event we have been anticipating emerges, we automatically try to reconcile what we had anticipated with reality. This precludes us from simply experiencing the event for what it is, at the time it is occurring. Assumptions deprive us of our ability to sensuously experience life. Openness of mind, stripped of any underlying assumptions, will facilitate a sensuous experience of life that embodies constant consciousness and presence in every moment.
A conscious mind can only exist if it is compassionate. One cannot be conscious of oneself or of others if one is unable to empathise. As Shunryu Suzuki wrote, “when your mind is compassionate, it is boundless”. Eliminate self-centered thoughts, which can only lead you to lose your precepts, and seek to create an openness of mind that is receptive of new information and possibilities.
By strengthening control over your thoughts, you free yourself from a mere reactive existence and instead become a proactive and self-determined being. In practice, consciousness is embedded in constant awareness of breathing, posture and physical presence. Zen philosophers are of the view once our minds and bodies are in order, everything else will exist in the right way. Aspire to exist right here, right now.
Andie Antoine is a 22 year old Sydney sider. A student. A human.
A believer in the beauty of the imperfect individual and the power of learning.
Creating her own path in life @andie_antoine