This is really a first: I like listening to my November choral concert. Especially tracks 3 and 9. Must be the Merton book making me all receptive to Latin.
Vice President Dick Cheney apparently sent out an interesting Christmas card this year.
It does seem hopeless sometimes, doesn't it? Any of it. Stopping humanity from killing itself, getting all your work done, letting love in, letting it out. It's not just the modern urge to instant gratification that makes everything seem futile. Everything we build does eventually crumble to dust, everything dies. New things are built and born, but maybe we don't get to or want to see that as much.
For some reason I'm reading Katagiri-roshi's book very slowly, little bits at a time, either because I'm having difficulty digesting it, or I just started it today when I'm really tired and traveling.
As I mentioned, it is easy to get fed up with daily routine. You do the same thing, day after day, until finally you don't know what the purpose of human life is. Human life just based on daily routine seems like a huge trap. We don't want to look at this, so we don't pay attention to daily routine. We get up in the morning and have breakfast, but we don't pay attention to breakfast. Quickly and carelessly, we drink our coffee and go to work.
But if you don't pay attention, you will eat breakfast recklessly, you will go to work recklessly, you will drive recklessly, and you will go to sleep recklessly. Finally you will be fed up with your daily routine. This is human suffering, and it fills everyday life.
The important point is that we can neither escape everyday life nor ignore it. We have to live by means of realizing the original nature of the self right in the middle of the daily routine, without destroying daily routine, and without attaching to it. When it is time to get up, just get up. Even though you don't like it, just get up. Getting up will free you from the fact that you have to get up.
Even though you don't like your life, just live. Even though death will come sooner or later, just live. The truth of life is just to live.
Growing up, my mother often said that 90% of life is showing up. As with every other child I waited at least a decade before listening to her (in my defense I think she may originally have been talking about job interviews), but there's a lot there. On the basic level, a lot of people really are flakes and can't make themselves show up to a job interview, let alone a job. What else do you need to show up for? People who need your presence--not needing you to do anything in particular, maybe just listen a bit, or watch. Your kids need you at their recitals and soccer games, even if they say they don't and your appearance seems to have no immediate effect. And you, yourself, if you do something like Zen or aikido, for your practice to have any meaning you need to show up. The difficulty to doing any of this showing up is that it so often feels like there's something else that would be more fun--TV, beer with the guys, whatever. I love aikido, and I find that sometimes by the time I reach the door my feet are made of lead and my couch is calling me. Most times I go, sometimes I don't (thus invoking the Flake Rule, requiring me to go the next night), but averaged over time, I keep showing up, and that gives meaning to my practice, helps my body be healthy, and nurtures the relationships I have at the dojo. It all starts with just being there.