Two of the things I resolved to do this year are to read a chapter each morning from Deng Ming-Dao’s 365 Tao and to accept the 108 Gates Challenge.
Each chapter of 365 Tao contains a brief poem on a single-word subject, followed by a meditation on the subject. Reading it is nothing new for me; I did the daily readings in 2009 and enjoyed them immensely.
The 108 Gates Challenge is a way to deepen one’s Zen practice by committing to one hour of practice every day for 108 consecutive days. It can be any combination of zazen or chanting.
I’d been aware of the challenge for awhile, and was encouraged by my teacher to take it on. But I always had some reason why I could not (would not) find the time.
Starting January 1, I made the time. And on the fourth day, I got this bit of synchronistic encouragement from the book:
Moon above water
Sit in solitude
If waters are placid, the moon will be mirrored perfectly. If we still ourselves, we can mirror the divine perfectly. But if we engage solely in the frenetic activities of our daily involvements, if we seek to impose our own schemes on the natural order, and if we allow ourselves to become absorbed in self-centered views, the surface of our waters become turbulent. Then we cannot be receptive to Tao.
There is no effort we can make to still ourselves. True stillness comes naturally from moments of solitude where we allow our minds to settle. Just as water seeks its own level, the mind will gravitate toward the holy. Muddy water will become clear if allowed to stand undisturbed, and so too will the mind become clear if it is allowed to be still.
Neither the water nor the moon make any effort to achieve a reflection. In the same way, meditation will be natural and immediate.
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Chappell.