What is Arising?
“Just forget yourself for now and practice inwardly—this is one with the thought of enlightenment. We see that the sixty-two views are based on self. So when a notion of self arises, sit quietly and contemplate it.” Eihei Dogen’s Guidelines for studying the Way [Gakudo yojin-shu], Ed Brown & Kazuaki Tanahashi ©San Franscisco Zen Center, 1985
I try to continuously practice my concept of “mindfulness,” which is noticing everything, including and especially those unconscious urges to move or think about something in particular.
For example, yesterday I helped a friend with her resume. This was after an emotionally exhausting last day at church. Part of me thought, “I’m not sure I’m up to this.” But then I thought, “I’ll just see how it goes and be available to help her as much as possible.” I was able to notice a few things on the “Michigan Works” website she had missed and could explain them to her. I was willing to wait while she struggled to use my laptop without a mouse. I was commended for my patience by an observer.
But what is patience? I had urges to do specific things for her and simply did not act on them so she could learn them for herself, as I had done a few years back. Thoughts arose and went away. Zazen teaches us to feel things fully and to not necessarily act upon any impulse. If you must scratch that itch, at least notice every impulse and sensation that goes with the itch. This is not passivity, but the deliberate cultivation of discernment and self-control.