Presence not Preference

Let's start with the image this time. After teaching for three weeks in the UK, I took the Eurostar through the Chunnel (the improbable tunnel under the English Channel) from the Ashton Station just outside London on to the Gare du Nord in Paris. Although I had visited Paris several times before, I had never experienced it in the Springtime. It was lovely, busy, overcrowded, beautiful, inspiring, overwhelming, expensive and amazing. Like life, it was everything. But, of course, it was also Paris!

Sitting Place de Vosges

I took this iamage with my iPhone through the window of a gallery bordering the Place des Vosges in the heart of the Marais. Obviously the sitting figure caught my eye, but then more appeared. The meditator is steady, balanced, but insubstantial. He or she sits in stillness and silence against a background of color, movement, and passion. In the distant background in the far left corner is a solitary figure standing alone, head down. How many things can you project onto these images? What do these images show you about you? I could see so much of my own practice in this one glimpse through the window, this momentary capture with my ever-present phone.

Following up on last week's Deepest Longing Deepest Fear I spoke about our natural tendency to complicate things, with a prejudice for our personal preferences rather than pure and simple presence. We sit as best we can, coming to realize that there is no life devoid of the “red thread” as it is called in some old Zen stories — passion, embodied, juicy life, with all the emotion that goes with it. In addition, there is the inevitable solitariness we encounter while active and chaotic life swirls around us. This is some of what I saw through the window that afternoon. What do you see? Check out the Inquiry recording and hear what came forward for others when preferences meet presence.

Inquiry recording: