At a daily meditation group during the height of the pandemic shutdown, the group facilitator mused on the word ‘still’. In meditation we are encouraged to sit very still. We watch our thoughts as they traipse through our mind and body. We notice the aches and pains in our body feeling them in their entirety. Trying most of the time unsuccessfully to not be consumed by such thoughts, feelings, aches and pains.
During that particular mindfulness session, the facilitator related to us that when we are still we are still us. In Zen and other forms of Buddhist thought, there is talk of impermanance. Nothing lasts forever, like the seasons, change is inevitable. Yet here is this idea that we are still us. Our nature is both ever changing and ever the same.
All material and physical things are subject to change to destruction, to decline. They are subject to growth, to blossoming and blooming too. As we become still we can notice these changes within our own physical body and in our emotional and mental states. Moment by moment, breath by breath. So we must reconcile this ever changing nature with our very own us-ness.
A professor for a course on Japanese Religions, described reincarnation as two pool tables side by side. One table a player breaks the balls, perhaps they take a few turns. They stop with the balls in a certain configure. On the table next to the first, new balls are set in exactly the same configure and play begins from the point where it stopped on the first table. Everything is new, yet the game begins at the same point as the last. The essence of the game continues on.
Our very own essence carries on. We may change, the world around us may be in flux, there is an essence that is constant throughout all the change. There is hope in this ability to change. There is loss too. There is grief for what is no longer a part of us, what is no longer here. Even when that part may have been destructive. The old self fades away. It is neither good nor bad, it simply is.
As we sit in stillness we are still here. Each moment we are here, and here, and here again. It is meditation, it is mindfulness. To be in that present moment, to be here, wherever here may be for us in that moment in time.
As the powers that be, seek to re-make the world in their own ideological image, we sit on our cushions. Some may say that is counter-active. Change will come whether we are out in the streets or on the cushion. While we declare our presence in the streets, we do so more quietly when we sit in meditation. Both are essential. Through the tumult of the world, being still, calming declaring we are still here, we are still us is a most radical act.