Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tai Chi and Present Moment

I’ve been having sporadic spiritual conversations with my sensei over the past year, talking over lunch every few months, and shooting a few emails to each other here and there. I want to share a little bit of our last exchange. (I called her to ask if it was okay.)

Amy: A MASTER IS GOALLESS Unfortunately, our society has developed a mentality that puts quick and easy results ahead of long-term dedication. The modern world can be viewed as a conspiracy against mastery. We¹re constantly bombarded with promises of immediate gratification and instant success, all which lead to the wrong direction. A master’s joy is in the training, the journey, not the goal. It’s the day-to-day that he values, not the belt itself. [This was sent in a weekly listserv email to the dojo. The following two notes were emails.]

Paul: Sensei, I love your note about masters and goals. For me, both your comment on modern culture and about the attitude of masters' are very spiritual. In Christian mysticism, there is something called the sacrament of the present moment. That is, paying attention to the moment you are in, being present to the present, can be (should be) a spiritual practice. A "sacrament"--if you will--like taking communion.

Amy: Great Paul. Much to discuss on this. We rush thru brushing our teeth, making our bed, showering, doing our work... so we can get to "the good stuff." Nothing counts except the pin-point "good stuff", maybe our lunches, our beer with the guys, or our weekend trips. If we could more enjoy brushing our teeth, washing the dishes, etc., we'd be more happy, instead of rushing thru what we view as the mundane to get to what we view as important. I am reading your book you lent me [Generous Orthodoxy] a little more closely. Very interesting. I especially enjoy your little notes [written in the margins]!

--Paul Corrigan


living stones said...

Wow! Powerful and meaningful. Very interesting in a number of ways. I will ponder this awhile. Then I hope we can find a time to disuss it some voice-to-voice. Thank you for sharing, Paul!

living stones said...

Thanks for sharing the email exchange you had with your sansei. I thought it was an example of how to talk about spiritually significant issues with others of different faiths--a conversation that pointed out similarities.
Also, the whole point of being alive to the present moment is something I think we are all wanting to develop more and more. This past weekend Cristin graduated from high school. We were involved in several important dinners and ceremonies, including hosting a small dinner party for Cristin right after graduation. That evening after everyone had gone to bed I found myself enjoying washing the dishes--as I soaped, scrubbed and rinsed, I prayed and reflected on the whole occasion. There wasn’t a lot of drama at the sink, but I found a deep satisfaction in being fully present to God’s grace.
I look forward to hearing how the continued conversation goes.

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