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by on October 27, 2013


“Even the general took off his armor to admire the peonies.”  Zen poem.

 Appreciation as defined by Webster is the recognition of a quality, value, significance of people and things; an expression of gratitude; awareness of delicate perception, especially the aesthetic qualities.

 From the poem we learn that respect is an aspect of appreciation.  In this case, appropriate attire was the sign of  respect.  In other situations it might be the same or different.  The expression of respect can be through body, speech or mind.

For us, bowing is a sign of respect.   We bow to our Buddha Nature, the Buddha image. 

We bow to our cushions as the seat of enlightenment,  then to the Sangha, the community of fellow practitioners.  We bow to our ancestors during service and when we greet or bid farewell to each other.

In the expression of speech, we use kind, wholesome words to communicate respect. Our tone is usually subdued, our language, more formal, and we make eye contact to convey sincerity. 

When we appreciate persons, sentient beings and things, we may have the thought they too have buddha nature and one day will be a buddha.  Appreciation, when practiced in this way, has the aspect of equanimity.  When fully practicing appreciation, all beings, inanimate objects, all are equally valuable.  All have buddha nature. All are interconnected.  One handles objects with care, notes the small and the large.

Our general also was aware of the event.  He was so mindful that he realized armor was not appropriate. So appreciation is grounded in mindfulness, in awareness.

When the time is right, just like the general, we let go.  We abandon our discussive thoughts, our troubles, and plans for the momemt of appreciation.  Then, we focus our being on the object of appreciation.  Suddenly, our thinking is stopped. We are no longer separate from the object or person.  Appreciation is nondual expression.

 It is here in the meeting of the appreciated and the appreciator that emptiness comes forth.  The experience is direct.


From → Zen Buddhism

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