Saying For Today: The new normal is as it has always been and could be no other way; you had forgotten and had to remember and relearn - it is that simple and that challenging.
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A student of Suzuki Roshi recalls a teaching given by the Teacher -
My family and I returned to San Francisco after being away from the Zen Center for a year. When I saw Roshi I said, "I think I got a little lost." He replied, "You can never get lost."
*David Chadwick, Ed. Zen Is Right Here.
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Nasrudin was fishing. He did not have a license. He heard someone walking and hid his fishing pole. A game warden came out of the woods. "Sir, what are you doing?" he asked. Nasrudin answered, "I'm teaching a fish how to swim."
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The legendary crazy sage, Nasrudin, reminds us of the naturalness of living a spiritual life. It being natural means it is not really spiritual. We use "spiritual" to point to something we had forgotten the how of doing.
To awaken spiritually means to remember what we had forgotten. We were like fish trying to walk on land. We did not have feet and could not breathe outside our natural habitat. The Buddha refers to this as "suffering." Christians refer to it as a condition called "sin" - literally, "missing the mark," so being off-center. We knew something was not right - on center- but we did not recognize what that was. Hence, we acted like a fish trying this and that to make it feel okay to walk on land. The suffering increases through this futile effort, for we are not equipped to do what we are trying to do; it is against our nature. Our fundamental nature is goodness, not in contrast to badness, but innately compassionate and kind.
Hence, awakening does not have to come upon us as anything spectacular. If the fish gets back in the water, all is okay. There is nothing supranormal about the fish returning to the stream. Some persons have had remarkable awakenings, but that does not have to be for you. Likely many persons are awakened and do not recall any moment of it happening.
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Many Buddhists teach we are already awakened, but, oddly, we need to become awakened. We are out of bed, no longer sleeping, but we act like we are in bed snoozing away. Another way of saying this is we are already fundamentally whole, but we do not recognize it. In the Christian sense, being out of the Garden of Eden is simply a state of mind. To awaken is to see we never left the Garden. In Suzuki Roshi's words, we can not get lost. Why? We never were lost.
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Living an awakened life is remarkable, for it is nothing exceptional at all. We can work with this paradox. The more we adjust to living the natural way, the less remarkable it appears. You may forget in time what it was like trying to walk on land. The new normal is as it has always been and could be no other way; you had forgotten and had to remember and relearn - it is that simple and that challenging.