I gave the keynote address at the Institute of Zen Leadership, put on by Zen Master Roshi Ginny Whitelaw. Here’s what’s worth knowing.
1. Practice death.
If you do not practice dying you will remain in fear of it. This will stifle all your decisions and prevent you from a life beyond fear. To do so simply ask yourself at any moment “am I willing to die to be here, doing this?”
2. Find your still point.
Your still point is that clear sheet of glass inside your mind through which you witness all phenomena in your life. It is perfectly, crystal clear. What rests in that still point is absolute subjectivity, absolute awareness: beyond thoughts and feelings you find pure “I am”-ness.
3. Don’t be afraid.
Your life will, in the end, amount to nothing. And yet it is absolutely essential in the evolution of the cosmos: you are that important. Lean into the paradox that you are nothing and everything, and take radical responsibility for it. It will dissolve your fear.
4. All effort is ignorance.
When you realize this, it frees you up to work with fearless, extraordinary passion in what you are called to do. And it liberates your ego from the myth that it is making a contribution, while all the time making the exact contribution it can make. As my friend Zen Master Junpo Roshi says with delighted enthusiasm, “now we’re getting nowhere!”
5. Put love first.
As you practice death, move into stillness, move beyond fear and give up effort, the truth of what you are will become unavoidable: you simply are love. It emerges not as a feeling but as an absolute truth of your own beingness – that love constitutes the substantive nature of the cosmos itself, and that you are, after all the hiding and self-deception, an inseparable facet of a gem that is its sparkling, glittering heart.
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