Editorial: Simply Living
Featured in Mountain Record 26.3, Spring 2008
If you know how much is enough, you are contented even when you sleep on the ground. If you don’t know it, you are discontented even when you are in heaven.
While this issue of Mountain Record raises provocative questions and offers insights into helping us determine “Just the Right Amount,” it also asks the reader to take the question beyond words, into the moment to moment experience of our lives. Just the right amount—just sitting—just living... What is it to just be?
In his discourse, Daido Roshi brings our attention to the very fact of our affluence and the problems that arise as a result. “It weakens vitality, and results in lethargy and an overwhelming lack of spirit,” he admonishes. He further reminds us that to really practice our lives—to live fully and with real happiness—requires deep commitment, great spirit, and hard work.
Whether we’re eating a meal, running a business, or mowing the lawn, the question of the right amount is always present. This question is rarely an easy one, as the contributors to this issue reveal. It’s not enough to simply muse over it; it requires action as a response. Can we go without? Can we sacrifice, relinquish our hold?
Spiritual practice offers a way to respond to the question of the right amount. Buddhist teachings point to the fundamental dissatisfaction we feel when we try to hold onto what we want and escape what we don’t. Nothing remains fixed. Can more and more of a thing that ultimate passes away ever really satisfy us?
Shugen Sensei elaborates on the importance of practicing, “the non-discriminating mind, the mind that is leaping out of that constant search for the beginning and the end.” While we tend to automatically rush after things, through the simple practice of zazen and the mindfulness of our everyday activities, we can come to live out of our original perfection and completeness.
Zen Master Keizan said, “This does not come from deliberate thought or conscious knowledge—it is the host within you… It is just like a jewel having luster, like a sound bringing along an echo.”
The right amount can’t be measured or predetermined by some formula. It is based on trust in “the host within” and the courage to leap
Karin Jinfu Connelly, MRO
Mountain Record, Editor