Sunday, December 08, 2013



In the past few weeks I have been asked what I thought of my experiences in Japan. This proved impossible for me to answer until just a few days ago. I found I was so immersed in the experience and in the experiencing that I was not able to shift into any reflective mode. All my senses and cognitive capacities were set on absorb, so the mechanisms of meaning-making were idling. In fact I deliberately avoided engaging in such reflection. It seemed out of place to be doing so while the experience was still unfolding. Now, with a week or so between me and the direct experiences, I can start to ask some questions and consider some metaphors to make sense of it all.
Coincidentally, our community is set to engage in our annual reflection. During this time we look back over the past 12 months and review what we have done to fulfill the intentions we set for ourselves last January. In our January gathering we will present the intentions for 2014. This review is an essential aspect of how we practice.
On my travels I read the new book, Scarcity, (Mullainathan and Shafir) a radical new proposal for how we can understand how the human mind works. Although the theory is pure Western psychology, it is entirely compatible with Buddhist ideas about the human sense of lack, what we call dukkha. They suggest that we are poorly served when we become “captured” by short-term shortages. We tend to narrow our perception and behave in ways which re-create the same distortions of life which we are caught up with. They emphasize the need to step back from urgencies of life, to look at what our long term aspirations may be. When we do this, we make better decisions and are less likely to become overwhelmed by our lives. In short, we need to shift between pure experience and the reflection of what such experience might mean for us.

om namu amida butsu,
Innen, doshu

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