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Jewel in the Mud: Zen Musings Kindle Edition
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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allow me a minute to explain the title.
Science says our bodies are mostly minerals and water. Combine the two and you get mud. the jewel is the mind. however the jewel must be faceted before it expresses its true beauty.
practicing Zen and other mental training allows your true nature to shine into the world.
Zen isnt about sitting in painful positions. it doesn't matter what position you sit in. its ALL ABOUT TRAINING YOUR MIND!
Through her words I must say that Ms Kent is closer to enlightenment (Kensho, Satori, or Nirvana) than many of the Zen masters I have known over the last 50 years.
If you get only two things from this book i would suggest they be the following.
Week 2 "It doesn't matter what other people think do or say." as long as you are doing the best you can and you respect yourself. Other people's thoughts about you are irrelevant.
Page 37 "Rule your mind or it will rule you"
if you can only get one thing out of this book. This should be it!
I am of the opinion that practicing mindfulness in your daily life is far more important than practicing Zazen once a day.
in the beginning it will be difficult to stay mindful for even a minute at a time. when you catch yourself dwelling on the past or plans for the future gently bring yourself back to the present.
I had been practicing Zen for 35 years and I still wasn't happy with my level of of enlightenment.
then I read Kristen Zambucka (SP) the "Ana Ana trilogy "
in this book she gave me one hint that is like Buddhist Mindfulness on steroids!
the simple hint was "Think of your mind as a garden."
it means to plant good thoughts, and rip out the bad ones. So I was mindful of my thoughts, and when I realized I was thinking bad thoughts I pulled myself out of it and thought several things such as gratitude I have enough to meet my needs, I have good friends in my life, that I'm healthy, thankful it isnt too cold or raining.
it doesn't matter what those good thoughts are or you can think of only one or two good thoughts or you can think of 50 good thoughts.
the whole idea is to get out of that habit of negative self talk going around and around in circles.
I practiced pulling up bad thoughts and replacing them with good thoughts, and in 5-6 months ; all of that negative chatter fell away and my true nature started to shine through.
Not sure if I realized Kensho or Satori. but I definitely reached the mental state Buddhists call the state of no mind. In Zen Training: Methods and Philosophy" The masterpiece by Katsuki Sekida. He calls this state "Forgetting the Ox". he described training the mind as if your mind as a willful and unruly ox. Many Zen teachers refer to the untrained mind as the monkey mind. because it is always jumping from thought to thought instead of being in the present.
there are a lot of Good Zen books out there. I have about 30-40 of them.
in my opinion you should have at Least the following three books in your Zen library.
"Jewel In The Mud" Harmony Kent
"Taking The Path Of Zen" Robert Aitken
These two books will offer great mental training and start thinking from a different point of view.
OF COURSE ANY ZEN LIBRARY IS INCOMPLETE WITHOUT
"Zen Training: Methods And Philosophy" Katsuki Sekida
I called Katsuki Sekida's book a masterpiece because it is. It is almost like having your own Zen Master in a book that you can read and re read until you get it.
This book conveys the importance of reflection and speaks to a diverse list of areas to reflect upon. At the start of this new year, this 52-week guide is a great book to start the new year fresh by reflecting on its weekly messages. Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for emotional, mental, and spiritual contemplation, improvement and purpose.