30 Nov. Mitch Hedberg. A swampland flower.

I missed meditation several times over the past few days. (So what? Yes, I’m a poor meditator and not the brightest sparks out there, but I won’t use meditation as a stick to bash myself over the head with…) I have this thing for working out and dieting. My most recent diet exhausted my body and mind. But I feel much better now. My healthy habits are my unhealthy habits.

This morning I sat for 30 minutes: not trying to fit the pure and innocent act of paying attention to my body/breath/thoughts, the search of the black emptiness inside, into the frames of this or that type of mediation. I registered the thoughts appearing (some of them hurtful/sad, others useless), but I didn’t cling to them. I just came back to the breath and by coming back to the breath I let them go. When I felt I was ready, I increased my focus and the stream of thoughts ceased for a moment.

Afterwards, I tried to remember those few interesting thoughts/ideas that came to me while meditating. But they were already gone. I recalled a joke by Mitch Hedberg and applied his strategy accordingly:

I write jokes for a living, I sit at my hotel at night, I think of something that’s funny, then I go get a pen and I write it down. Or if the pen is too far away, I have to convince myself that what I thought of ain’t funny.

Before sitting I read a bit from “Swampland Flowers: The Letters and Lectures of Zen Master Ta Hui”:

Having read your letter carefully, I have come to know that you are unremitting in your conduct, that you are not carried away by the press of official duties, that in the midst of swift flowing streams you vigorously examine yourself. Far from being lax, your aspiration to the Path grows ever more firm as time goes on. You have fulfilled my humble wishes solidly and profoundly.

Nevertheless, worldly passions are like a blazing fire: when will they ever end? Right in the midst of the hubbub, you mustn’t forget the business of the bamboo chair and reed cushion (meditation). Usually (to meditate) you set your mind on a still concentration point, but you must be able to use it right in the midst of the hubbub. If you have no strength amidst commotion, after all it’s as if you never made any effort in stillness.

If you consider quietude right and commotion wrong, then this is seeking the real aspect by destroying the worldly aspect, seeking nirvana, the peace of extinction, apart from birth and death. When you like the quiet and hate the hubbub, this is just the time to apply effort. Suddenly when in the midst of hubbub, you topple the scene of quietude—that power surpasses the (meditation) seat and cushion by a million billion times.

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