Chattering Mind

In Soto Zen meditation, teachers sometimes strike the student’s shoulders with a Keisaku “awakening stick.” What looks like a “paddling” always comes at the request of the student, who may be sleepy or stiff from sitting so long. But the “whack!” of the slim paddle can be heard throughout the meditation hall, and the pain of the whack alerts the meditating student to the present moment, or “what is.”.

While I’d never say we asked for this, do you see how we’ve all been “hit” by the Virginia Tech shootings this week, how we’ve been smacked hard by an altered awareness still too new to put into words?

We’re awake. Notice how we run from our feelings by discussing our views on gun control, campus safety, or even the bad reactions some people have to anti-depressants (apparently the killer was on them). This is natural. We shouldn’t feel ashamed. But if you can, in the coming days, try to stay real. Try not to label, or speak too much, for in distilling what’s happened, we’ll cover up the freshness of the pain, roll over and go back to sleep. The media fill our minds with ideas that will distract us from the initial whack. We’re awake, a lot of us are in pain. One friend of mine told me today that she just wants to contemplate what’s happened a little longer, stay silent, and pray.

You don’t have to write about what you’re going through here, but you can if you want to.

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