Featured Articles

Taking the temperature of practice

When you're hot you're hot. And when you're not, you're not. No problem.



Last week I was in northern Vermont on retreat. At this moment I am in Florida on a business-related trip.

In Vermont, I slept with three fleece blankets to stay warm. That's not a problem in Florida.

Which is better?

I heard a talk recently by Shinzen Young, who trained in Japan as a Zen monk. He recounts going to his teacher and asking, what is the difference between hot and cold? (The question, he says, was about non-duality, but hot and cold was the example his confused mind seized upon.) When pressed, the teacher replied, rather fiercely: When you are hot, you boil and you die. When you are cold, you freeze and you die.

I interpret this to mean, (a) extremes of anything are not healthy; the middle way is best; and (b) either way, you're going to die so stop fussing about the temperature.

So ... cold has its beauty -- sharpness, clarity, a drawing in. I like the weight of many blankets.
And warmth has its loveliness, its ease, its lightness. My calves and ankles are thrilled to feel warm air.

Whatever circumstances we are in, we can find something to appreciate about it.

When we have "fundamental appreciation and respect for what we do, every act is a sacred act," Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche says. "With that inspiration, we regard every experience in our life as sacred as well."

Vote for this article to appear in the Recommended list.



I read in a book called Where's My Zen? that with opposites, it's not one or the other, it's the thing that both opposites are a part of. So I guess that would support your "B" interpretation.

Either way, I found the book to be really helpful for learning to appreciate the moment, whatever the circumstances. You can get it for free at the author's site at wheresmyzen.com

Site developed by the IDP and Genalo Designs.