A Zen’s-Eye View: Lojong slogan 48: Train wholeheartedly without bias

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Kuya Minogue writes 'A Zen's-Eye View' for the Creston Valley Advance.

Two weeks ago, the slogan was about including all aspects of yourself in your spiritual training: your body, your speech and your mind. This slogan expands upon that to include all aspects of your life as a family and community member.

In Zen training, spiritual practice has two components: formal Zen training, which happens at the Creston Zendo and includes meditation and study of the Zen teachings, and mindfulness practice, which means working to realize spiritual principles in everyday life. Meditation is done alone; study is done in a group of Zen students. Mindfulness takes place in all our interactions with events and people.

This slogan is based on seeing every aspect of your life as spiritual practice. It is about letting go of dividing your life into parts and of considering some parts spiritual practice and the rest time off. It’s about doing everything with the heart of spiritual intent.

If you view spirituality as only something that happens at your place of training or worship, you are missing the point completely. Formal practice is great and it is important, but it is only a small portion of your life; the rest is mindfulness, where you work with what happens after you leave the zendo or church and have to deal with the nitty-gritty of life, and with other people. That is where your spirituality is put to the test.

If you are biased and have fixed views about what one must do to have a spiritual life, it is easy to come up with all sorts of excuses as to why it is so difficult to practice an open spirituality that includes all people, objects and events. You can complain about all the obstacles you face, about how others who don’t have your own ideas about what spirituality is make it hard to live out the values of your spiritual training. If you approach your spiritual life in this way, circumstances for training outside formal practice are never quite right.

Being without bias means that there are no excuses. You do not declare any areas off limits, but you relate to your life as a single whole, a back-and-forth rhythm of meditation and mindfulness. When you are without bias, instead of waiting for the right occasion, you apply your spiritual principles on the spot, no matter what is going on, or who is present at the time. In that way your spiritual practice becomes more than a hobby or accessory — it is a way of life.

Practice Suggestion: The best way to develop a more wholehearted spiritual practice is by 1) spending time meditating and intentionally practicing mindfulness, and 2) memorizing a meaningful section of your spiritual teachings. In the next two weeks, focus on some aspect of your spiritual teachings that particularly strikes you. Write it out and put it on your mirror and then, bring to intentionally remember this teaching throughout the day. Notice when it comes up on its own.

This column is a long series of short essays exploring the meaning of the Lojong Slogans. It is inspired by the work of Judy Lief.

Kuya Minogue is the resident teacher at Creston’s ZenWords Zen Centre. For more information, she can be reached at 250-428-3390.