Take a Break From Stress: Emerson, Dogen, Hafiz, Donald Hall in the Present Moment

Meeting #15: May 19, 2020

Theme: In our mindfulness practice we sit, stand, walk, or lay down with the intention to be fully aware with an open and receptive mind and heart to everything that occurs in this present moment.  “This present moment;” it is the only moment that will ever actually exist.  Emerson reminds us, as does Dogen, that we cannot be happy and strong until we are willing to abide fully in this moment.  In our formal practice we train our minds to stay in the present in service to our moment-to-moment minds, that they may stay in the present as well.  Until we can do this, we cannot be fully content.  Rather, any contentment we experience is conditional, grasping at the illusion of the “ideal” instead of what is actually occurring.

Today’s Quotes:

Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say ‘I think,’ ‘I am,’ but quotes some saint or sage. He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose. These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God today. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature, in all moments alike. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson in “Self Reliance”

Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken! Take heed, do not squander your life.

— Zen Master Dogen

Gently Guided Meditation: Breath/Body/Mind Awareness

Video Recording of Meeting:


Meeting #16: May 21, 2020

Theme:  In our previous meeting we heard from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Dogen about how essential is the present moment.  What we bring to our minds in the present moment molds and shapes our experiencing.  Do we bring memory?  The feelings of memory now envelope our being.  Do we bring an anticipation?  The feelings of that anticipation bring that future into the now.  The Persian poet Hafiz reminds us to stay present, and in doing so the possibility of encountering something sacred, something transcendent, arises.  Donald Hall envisions simple moments in the kitchen, and our senses explode with our sly and vicarious watching of the people in the kitchen.

Today’s Quotes:

Now is the time

Now is the time to know

That all that you do is sacred.


Now, why not consider

A lasting truce with yourself and God?

Now is the time to understand

That all your ideas of right and wrong

Were just a child’s training wheels

To be laid aside

When you can finally live

with veracity and love.


Now is the time for the world to know

That every thought and action is sacred.


That this is the time

For you to compute the impossibility

That there is anything

But Grace.


Now is the season to know

That everything you do

Is Sacred


Summer Kitchen

In June’s high light she stood at the sink

With a glass of wine,

And listened for the bobolink,

And crushed garlic in late sunshine.

I watched her cooking, from my chair.

She pressed her lips

Together, reached for kitchenware,

And tasted sauce from her fingertips.

“It’s ready now. Come on,” she said.

“You light the candle.”

We ate, and talked, and went to bed,

And slept. It was a miracle.

  Donald Hall

Gently Guided Meditation: Breath/Body/Mind with Poetry

Video Recording of Meeting:


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