Sitting just now, I experienced much unpleasantness in body and mind. I also felt great joy, from having the practice to carry me through. Knowing that the trick lied not in hoping for a better experience, but in being with everything, including what did not feel so good.
I thought about conversation I had once with Bryan, one of the residents at Zen Hospice, shortly before he died. Bryan knew he did not have much longer, and fear had taken ahold of him. In the middle of the night, he had gotten up to play music on his keyboard, and for the first time his fingers had refused to cooperate. Bryan, a professional musician had reached a place of no return. "I wonder what happens after death. They say Jesus came back from the dead. Did he really? That whole story about the stone being rolled back, and him stepping out and meeting the women, I don't know . . . What do you think? You are a Buddhist." I sensed the urgency in his voice. "Well, I don't know either. What I notice is right now, you are being in your thoughts, and in the future, and there is a lot of fear there, and I wonder if you could suspend the thoughts for just a moment, and just be with the present experience? Feeling your body, and your breath, and the thoughts coming and going, and the whole atmosphere." Bryan got angry. "What do you mean, being in the moment . . . It's taking me forever to put on just one shoe. There is nothing good about this." He was right, there was not much pleasant about the moment. I realized right then the importance of getting ready for the final goodbye.
Practicing, every day. Being with the ebbs of flows of life. Even minded . . .