On the weekend I spent the day with Susan Murphy Roshi at the Where to from Now? Event in Berry. Susan is a Zen Master and one of Australia's senior spiritual teachers, and it was a wonderful gift to be able to listen to her up close and personal. The following little practical guide is my own summary of Murphy Roshi's talk:
1. Stay on the same page - in the age of internet browsing we are used to clicking on the next link and moving on to the next page, often without even finishing the page we are on. We can lose whole hours this way, and it creates an inner restlessness. Let's try reading one page at a time and not giving in to the urge to click on that tantalisingly highlighted next word.
2. Meditate deeply - in meditation we realise that there is no separation, that there is no difference between us and the eternity of the Earth. We are the solar system. How can we ever be bored when we consider something like that.
3. Study Zen - Murphy Roshi talked about her moments of childhood awareness, when she experienced a full knowledge of her limitlessness. Zen practice put her back in touch with these childhood moments, when she had a realisation of other worlds. Such realisations are beyond words and beyond explanation. We need some kind of discipline and some kind of framework in which to experience them.
4. Open your mind up to other traditions - Susan spoke of the recent pronouncements of Pope Francis, and how they have inspired her. Just because we practice in, and are dedicated to, one particular spiritual tradition doesn't mean that we can't find useful things in other traditions.
5. Don't just gnash your teeth - moaning and whingeing about the state of the world is not fruitful and is not good for us. Act on your own conscience, and don't give in to indifference. We must actively encourage our leaders to change. We are all in this together.
6. We all bear the responsibility for love - the cultivation of compassion in our world should rest evenly on the shoulders of us all. Meditation helps us realise that we are never separate from the world or from other people. The universe is part of us, and we are part of it. Stay open to the possibilities of spreading love and doing good.
Zen Roshi Dr Susan Murphy is the founding teacher of Zen Open Circle.You can read an article by her in the Huffington Post here.