Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What I Wear Is Pants

I do not live in a hermitage. I live in a house, what I wear is pants, what I do is live, how I pray is breathe.
-Thomas Merton from "Day of a Stranger".

Must you see nature as a machine? Is your only learning chemistry, physics, and ontology? What if poetry was your template for life? Can't you know Tao by the feeling of mud in your sandals? Thus are the sages called silly because they have given up their prejudices.
-Today's Tao Reading


Both of these quotes say a lot to me. For many years I strived to maintain a variety of spiritual practices with varying degrees of enthusiasm. I always seemed to run out of gas. I admit there is a great possibility that my laziness and lack of personal discipline is likely the culprit for my inability to persevere. However, giving myself a little bit of credit and the benefit of the doubt, I also like to believe that I have spent so many years trying to be a spiritual man that my spirituality has become one with my life to the point that they no longer appear to be separate things. This does not mean that I am a saint or that I am a perfect man. I am far from achieving sainthood or perfection.

I believe I have become more like my mentor, Thomas Merton, in the sense that "I live in a house, what I wear is pants, what I do is live, how I pray is breathe". It may be a surprise to some people but I am an incurable romantic and a dreamer. Although I do not consider myself a poet or an artist at all, after reading today's Tao thought, I believe poetry is my template for life. Of course, in my mind, all of this is little more than a side effect of being a contemplative person. I may not write poetry but I usually see life with poetic eyes. Being like this makes me sometimes feel as though I am of no practical value to anyone. I sometimes feel as though I move from one Zen moment to another. Breathing is life and all life is spiritual, not just to those with poetic eyes, but even to those who are blind to the poetry of life. My life is not about doing many things beyond those necessary for daily life. My life is more about being and seeing and awakening. It's about looking out a window at falling snow while drinking a mug of hot coffee. I am not fully awake but I am no longer asleep either. As I read through this I wonder if I should be laughing at myself and my possible delusion that I have accomplished anything in the spiritual realm. Perhaps I should add a line to the Merton quote that says "What I see in the mirror is a fool who thinks he's a poet"!

4 comments:

Littlefair said...

Sawaki Kôdô Rôshi was asked in a telly interview what he had learned from his many years of Zen practice to which he replied, "Nothing!" (Can't find source I'm afraid)

My day also is about being-this satisfies me greatly and your post struck a chord with me. Although your self-effacing comment at the end does you no justice! Aren't you accomplishing something spiritual every day by simply 'being'? Isn't that poetry?

An irreverent look at practice:
http://diaryofamartialartist.blogspot.com/2008/11/practice-is-like.html

Tiedyedmystic said...

Nice to hear from you! Yes, I was being slightly tongue in cheek at the end. Most people want to "do well" in life. I try to "be well". Merry Christmas!

Jacob Sheehan said...

I dont know who you are or what your blog is about, but i agree with everything you said above, 100%. I am a college student and am having hesitations about studying theology and becoming a theology teacher one day. what do you do? what would you recommend?

Jacob Sheehan said...

I dont know who you are or what your blog is about, but i agree with everything you said above, 100%. I am a college student and am having hesitations about studying theology and becoming a theology teacher one day. what do you do? what would you recommend?