There is an old Zen story of a great scholar of the Buddhist sutras who applies to a Zen master for instruction. As the scholar prattles on about his learning and insights, the teacher makes him a cup of tea. To the scholar’s astonishment, the teacher pours the tea into the teacup until it overflows. When the scholar yells, “Stop, the cup is already full,” the teacher replies, “You are like this full cup, overflowing with ideas, beliefs and opinions! How can you receive anything I offer you? You have to empty yourself first!”
When we empty ourselves of the preferences, opinions, and positions of conditioned mind, we experience the wisdom, love, and compassion that we are!
In this two-week R/L Practice Intensive, we will use our trusty recorders to practice embodying the six qualities of the empty teacup, often described as Divine: wealth, power, realization of oneness, esteem, beauty, and wisdom.
Today's topic: Day 1
Wealth is the ability to fully experience life. (Henry David Thoreau)
When we are truly here for the present moment, we have wealth beyond measure. Today, “drop into each moment” and experience the wealth of Life. R/L how the world looks when projecting from a place of wealth and wellbeing.
Today's topic: Day 2
The only wealth which you will keep forever is the wealth you have given away. (Marcus Aurelius)
Explore the truth behind this quote. Today, hold as a koan (a spiritual question that cannot be answered with the rational mind) the questions: How does that work? What experience is Marcus Aurelius pointing to? R/L
Today's topic: Day 3
Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment. (Mahatma Gandhi)Practice converting the love of power into the power of love. Each time you feel powerless, frustrated, or thwarted in any way today, consciously choose love. R/L how it feels to have the power to make that movement to love.
Today's topic: Day 4
If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought. (Peace Pilgrim)
In awareness, we can direct attention away from negative thoughts and focus instead on what is actually so—goodness, compassion, presence. Today, commit to a practice of “no negative thoughts.” At the end of the day, R/L about exercising the power of presence!
Today's topic: Day 5
Do the thing and you will have the power. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
In keeping commitments, we “do the thing and have the power.” Today, make a practice commitment and keep it. Suggestions: R/L for 3 minutes every hour on the hour; stop and count the breath each time you stop at a red light; take a deep breath between each bite you eat. It is in keeping our word to ourselves that we experience the power of life.
Today's topic: Day 6
Realization of Oneness
“John Muir, Earth — planet, Universe” [Muir's home address, as inscribed on the inside front cover of his first field journal]
John Muir knew it—we are all part of an indivisible whole. Our address is where we are! Today, practice respect for your home through caring. Choose anything—your glasses, a tabletop, a plant. Focus attention on showing care for no reason. R/L the experience of caring that arises from realizing that everything is "God in me."
Today's topic: Day 7
Realization of Oneness
The deepest of level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless ... beyond speech ... beyond concept. (Thomas Merton)Perhaps our greatest opportunity to experience oneness with All is in silence. Today, notice how deep silence, even in the midst of noise, reveals a sense of connection. Spend time being in the silence and R/L what the heart feels when in communion with life.
Today's topic: Day 8
The more clearly we can focus attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction. (Rachel Carson)
Today, can you focus attention on Life in a way that offers profound respect for all that you see? R/L the wonders abounding in your daily life, and notice how those wonders elicit compassion and love.
Today's topic: Day 9
Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence. (Alan Watts)
Today, notice how Life’s magnificence is living through you and how its wisdom and compassion manifest in your words, thoughts, and actions. R/L what you see.
Today's topic: Day 10
The more often we see the things around us — even the beautiful and wonderful things — the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: flowers, trees, birds, clouds, even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less. (Joseph B. Wirthlin)
As you go about your day, R/L the beauty that you may take for granted. Notice the people, places, and things that are part of the tapestry of your life as if this is the first time you’ve ever seen them.
Today's topic: Day 11
To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter... to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life. (John Burroughs)
Schedule five minutes today to walk outside with your recorder. As you breathe in the fresh air and walk by foliage and flowers, pause to record the beauty of the natural world.
Today's topic: Day 12
We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. (Jawaharlal Nehru)
Today, practice noticing the beauty around you in new ways. Walk a street you usually don’t take. Talk to a stranger in line at the store. R/L the beautiful, surprising adventures that make up your day.
Today's topic: Day 13
The reason the universe is eternal is that it does not live for itself; it gives life to others as it transforms. (Lao Tzu)
Practice the wisdom of living in unity with everything today. What do you notice about seeking connection and harmony? R/L the moments of your day when you experienced being one with Life.
Today's topic: Day 14
Who would then deny that when I am sipping tea in my tearoom I am swallowing the whole universe with it and that this very moment of my lifting the bowl to my lips is eternity itself transcending time and space? (D.T. Suzuki)
Set an alarm to go off three times during the day. When it rings, R/L how what you are doing in that moment reflects the harmony and unity of all Life. What is it like to focus awareness on unity?