Thinking and Feeling are Over Rated

Morro Bay

I haven’t written a blog in two months.  I simply could not get myself to take a closer look at anything except a flower, my quinoa salad or the Santiago Oaks that line the path on my daily hike.  Writing a blog requires a lot of thinking and feeling.  I was tired of thinking and feeling.  It was interfering with my life.

So I decided to see and do instead.

According to Karen Mazaen Miller, author and Zen Buddhist Priest, “When you get sick and tired of what you think and feel, then you can pay attention to what you see and do.”  I came across her quote while scrolling through Facebook.  It is based on the teachings of the famous 13th century Zen master, Dogen Zenji.  And, it is called enlightenment.

Have you ever looked at a bowl of quinoa?  I mean really looked at it.  It’s like eating a bowl full of tiny planet Saturn’s.   Or, how about a Cholla cactus?  The spikes are almost invisible at its sharpest point.  Then there are my cat’s whiskers.  Almost like a Cholla cactus spike but embedded in her cheek, absolutely extraordinary.

No, I am not on drugs.  I guess you could say I am experiencing enlightenment and it is awesome.

Enlightenment is defined differently depending on who you ask.  Kant explains it as “a man’s emergence from his self imposed nonage.  Nonage is the inability to use one’s own understanding without another’s guidance.”  In Buddhism, enlightenment is when you discover the truth about life.  For Dogen Zenji, it is paying attention to what we see and do, without falling victim to what we think and how we feel.  It is being in the moment.  There is no yesterday, no tomorrow.  There is just now.  Like enjoying the warm sun on your back while watering the flowers, savoring the bitter flavor of kale mixed with garlic and sweet cranberries, or noticing cat’s whiskers.  It is simply a way of being.  So simple, yet not.

None of these explanations of enlightenment are right or wrong, or better or worse.  They just are.  The moment I finally got this, the moment I truly understood this with every fiber of my being, something shifted in me so profound that I was changed forever.  I was transformed.  Transformation is a deep, fundamental change, altering the very nature of something.  It is the bringing forth a new way of being.  I have found a new way of being.

By the way, some transformation takes years, some happen in one miraculous moment.

Like the day I quit smoking 27 years ago.  I was a sophomore at The University of Arizona.  I lived on the 5th floor of the Coronado dorm.  I was returning from class when I noticed the elevator was packed with students, so I decided to take the stairs.  By the time I reached the 3rd floor I could not breathe.  Huffing and puffing, my heart felt like it was going to pound out of my chest.  I was only 20 years old.

“That’s it,” I told myself.  And it was.  I quit smoking.

I quit smoking because I got it.  I quit letting my thoughts and feelings run my life because I got it!  I quit my marriage because, well, I finally got it!

These miraculous moments don’t just happen a few times in one’s life.  They happen all the time.  Some hit you like a lightening bolt, some like a quiet drop of dew.  Some take years, some only a minute.  But all matter.  All of it.  Like the first time I kissed a boy, sang into a microphone, and gazed into my newborn’s eyes.  Or the day I got my rejection letter from Brain Child Magazine, was diagnosed with cancer and got the call that my dad was in the hospital.

Please do not be intimidated by words like enlightenment and transformation for they are just words describing a state of being.  And, these states of being are not limited to only a few special people.  They are for everyone.  That includes you and me.

So, what have I been doing since my last transformation?

I have been seeing and doing, of course!

I went on a road trip up the coast with Maggie, threw a big Birthday/housewarming party in our new backyard, took a quick trip to Phoenix to help my Mom while my Dad was in the hospital, found myself in another MRI machine and went to our annual home school camping trip to Anza Borrego.  Now I am getting ready for my Grand Canyon hike while working on my book and making career plans for the fall.  Maggie will be going to Orange County High School of the Arts.  She was accepted into the Creative Writing Conservatory.  My days of homeschooling will be behind me forever as a new world of possibilities open up ahead.

Anza Borrego

And, my writing?  It will continue.  For I realize that it was not my writing that was interfering with living.  No, it was me.  I am the only one that can do that.  I was letting my feelings and thoughts take over.  I forgot to stop and smell the roses.  Cliche, I know, but so true.

By the way, while writing this blog, I was reminded that writing IS living.  I got it!

Until next time my friends.  Now go live!

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