Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie: Day/Jour IV

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Heart of Life/Coeur de la vie: Day/Jour IV

Early morning in Paris, only a moment before heading off to work. Worked yesterday, too, so my sitting was brief, brief but whole, nothing outside of it for those few minutes.

What lies ahead today? Open your beginner’s mind and you will be showered with the marvels all around.

Our question today is: What is it? What is every thing, what is any thing? Take any « object » — a cup, a computer, your job, the bus, a paper in the street, a tree, and look at it not as serving a purpose, not in relation to anything else, not made of various substances, but just look at the mystery of its being.

Try to look where you don’t usually look, or look differently at what you usually look at. All of this constitutes the ingredients of your life, abundant and rich and mysterious. What is it? Just keep asking.

By | 2016-04-14T12:49:17+00:00 avril 14th, 2016|Textes|30 Comments

About the Author:

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Enseignante Zen et poète, Sensei Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell est née et a grandi à Minneapolis, aux Etats-Unis. Arrivée en France en 1981 pour étudier la littérature et l’histoire, elle y est restée, s’installant à Paris, où elle élève ses deux enfants et gagne sa vie en tant que journaliste. The Zen teacher and poet Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell Sensei was born and raised in Minneapolis, but came to France in 1981 to study literature and history and has lived in Paris ever since, raising her two children and making a living as a journalist.

30 Comments

  1. Gonçalo Moreira 15 avril 2016 at 23 h 35 min - Reply

    An act of love. A mystery. Leaves floating, thoughts, stress, peace, wholeness, separation. All of it.

  2. Brenda Liddy 15 avril 2016 at 10 h 24 min - Reply

    Great having a Skype session with you this morning. Thanks Amy. When I think of the heart of life, I always recall the poem I learned in French class many years ago. It seemed such a sad poem and as a young person it is impossible to imagine the heart of life that lies in store!

    Il pleure dans mon coeur
    Comme il pleut sur la ville.
    Quelle est cette langueur
    Qui pénêtre mon coeur ?
    By Paul Verlaine

    Yesterday I read a poem by Abigail Parry which won the fifth annual €10,000 Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize, in association with The Moth, which is one of the most lucrative in the world for a single poem.
    These are a few verses from the poem:

    Arterial

    I’m only half-surprised to find the heart

    stranded half-way down the M4.
    This is not,
as you might think, a metaphor. The cats’
    eyes
all join up and there it is, red-raw and chugging.

    The stereo’s on the blink. So it’s the racy roar

    of eighty miles an hour in the dark, and that hot,
    
nagging tattoo – a doom-drum, counting down.
    
Three years ago I split the thing in two,

    left one half of it in town, lobbed the other
    out beyond the London Orbital. Now here it is,
    jammed crudely back together, flashing red.

    Just like my mother always said – leave one man

    for another, and you leave the better part of you.
    She knew a thing or two about the heart plush

    interiors, dim-lit. The heart has four red rooms,
    through which the blood is pushed in roughly rhythmic

    stops and starts. Think of the poor dull traffic,

    nudged from heart, to brain, to gut, and back again.

    Once I read that the heart can only travel
    
at walking pace, so it can’t keep up this shuttle,

    shuttle, shuttle. These are not helpful thoughts,
    said the therapist, behind her wedded fingers.
    Also – We cannot treat you for a broken heart….

    I suppose we cannot run away from the pain of a broken heart even at eight miles an hour.

  3. Brenda Liddy 15 avril 2016 at 10 h 14 min - Reply

    The fifth annual €10,000 Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize, in association with The Moth, one of the most lucrative in the world for a single poem, was won last night by Abigail Parry at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin for her poem, Arterial.

    Il pleure dans mon coeur
    Comme il pleut sur la ville.
    Quelle est cette langueur
    Qui pénêtre mon coeur ?
    By Paul Verlaine

    Arterial

    I’m only half-surprised to find the heart

    stranded half-way down the M4.
    This is not,
as you might think, a metaphor. The cats’
    eyes
all join up and there it is, red-raw and chugging.

    The stereo’s on the blink. So it’s the racy roar

    of eighty miles an hour in the dark, and that hot,
    
nagging tattoo – a doom-drum, counting down.
    
Three years ago I split the thing in two,

    left one half of it in town, lobbed the other
    out beyond the London Orbital. Now here it is,
    jammed crudely back together, flashing red.

    Just like my mother always said – leave one man

    for another, and you leave the better part of you.
    She knew a thing or two about the heart plush

    interiors, dim-lit. The heart has four red rooms,
    through which the blood is pushed in roughly rhythmic

    stops and starts. Think of the poor dull traffic,

    nudged from heart, to brain, to gut, and back again.

    Once I read that the heart can only travel
    
at walking pace, so it can’t keep up this shuttle,

    shuttle, shuttle. These are not helpful thoughts,
    said the therapist, behind her wedded fingers.
    Also – We cannot treat you for a broken heart.

  4. Sophie 15 avril 2016 at 6 h 42 min - Reply

    « Stillness in our life
    Who am I?
    Who are you she he?
    What is it? «
    and today will be…?

    D’abord prendre refuge
    puis questionner
    encore et encore et encore

    J’ai du mal à questionner comme cela
    mais je fais confiance au chemin qui se trace en moi
    à partir de ces questions écrites et inscrites

    Dear all
    I came back after some days in Normandy
    a plunge into nature, sea and sky and land and wind
    and a plunge into family, 9 joyful girls from 6 months to 13 years old

    Another joyful plunge was waiting for me:
    to read you to meet you to be with you…

    Last night another plunge with former inmates « on stage », bouleversant
    One says: thanks to the art director, I could learn how to say again « I », to say « I am »…
    how lucky we are to have the opportunity to think about our « I », to learn maybe how to say « I » in other ways…

    Tomorrow we will be a few of us to sit in the same room
    and all of you will be with us.

  5. Rita 15 avril 2016 at 1 h 09 min - Reply

    This is a good practice. To ask a designer on a working-day-inside-the-studio to search other meaning, form, sense, purpose in an object than not what is supposedly in its « nature » (project of being). The mystery of my afternoon was planning merchandise 🙂 related with a specific exhibition for the public department of museums in Portugal. Nice. Some images were beautiful and at one point any seemed to make sense anywhere.
    Middle afternoon: not able to deal with my lack of understanding of what it feels out-of-order… co-worker in trouble for long years and giving signs of much unbalance again. I don’t know who she is. We breathe the same air and see the same view through the window every day, feel the same sun light. We don’t know each other. We work together for 11 years.

    Thank you all for your comments.
    Its oh sooo late.

  6. Elizabeth 14 avril 2016 at 23 h 59 min - Reply

    an other day of not sitting …..what is wrong ?
    WHO AM I WHO IS YOU ,WHO IS IT?
    Some moments of awareness ….
    The bird that sang yesterday and early this morning will die ,like me
    and we will feed the earth, not now but one of these days.
    How many opportunities will be lost?
    New changes tomorrow?
    Love from Coimbra
    Elizabeth

  7. Helena 14 avril 2016 at 23 h 53 min - Reply

    ‘What is it?’
    It is me doing life….

    Portugal

  8. André 14 avril 2016 at 23 h 46 min - Reply

    No sitting this morning. A busy day accompanied by my closest co-worker, the computer. What is this? Almost like my body, my hands, my brain – a prothesis. In the evening at home, with my daughter, playing with her toys. What are them? Her imagination, our imagination. My wife and she are sleeping now. I have sat for a brief moment. Now I am going to bed. Good night.

  9. Nuno "Hazy Moon" 14 avril 2016 at 23 h 45 min - Reply



    Never mind…

    [Coimbra, Portugal]

  10. margarida 14 avril 2016 at 23 h 43 min - Reply

    who am i? who are you?…what is it? this attraction, this attachment, this desire? things going too fast and i lose myself on them forgetting that i´m part of a retreat in the heart of life…today i only could sit in the middle of the afternoon, before going out to teach yoga…during the ride i thought…not about what is it…but who are they…the people i saw inside their cars..why is who different from what? who »quem » what « o quê »… »it » has no desires, « it » has no attachments only attractions…gashô to all

  11. Astrid 14 avril 2016 at 23 h 31 min - Reply

    Today I cycled along the river towards the village to get some groceries. Little ducklings just out of the egg, beginners mind swimming effortlessly. Passed by this centuries old house with the name ‘In the Wereldt is veel gevaer’ (old Dutch for: there’s a lot of danger in the world) and yet the river was simply flowing, the trees blossoming and the sun shining. Don’t know what It is, in a name, a word or an object or somewhere in between, lost in translation, but It is there, No doubt about it…bon nuit!!

  12. João 14 avril 2016 at 23 h 25 min - Reply

    When sitting at home, here in Almada (Portugal), there’s always a 3-drawer chest in front of me. What is it? Go past what it’s made of, the hands that smoothed it’s surface, the clothes it holds inside. What is it? The knobs stick out, like telling me something I may hear but not understand.
    Someone mentioned here today an emotional relationship with everyday objects. I remember feeling that way years ago, but as if those objects were safe places, safe from the fear of living. I remember wishing to be them, to experience their calmness, their pacification.
    This evening, playing the tuba, what is this I hold between my legs and grab with the hands, as if hugging it? What is this labyrinth of curved tubes, where I feel with my left hand that holds it on top the hot air I constantly breathe into it? In this experience, can’t help bundling together all three questions: what am I?, what are you?, what is it?

  13. zoe 14 avril 2016 at 23 h 14 min - Reply

    I was in a bus going to Issy for an appointment, a ride that takes a looong looong time, reading my book and enjoying the ride. After about ten minutes, i noticed a bright orange color taking over the space above my inclined eyes on the book. I looked up and saw a Buddhist monk in his robe, with a matching color hand bag . He seemed agitated, moving a lot, checking inside his bag, taking out a piece of paper, reading it and putting it in his side pocket somewhere inside his chest area. Then he got up and went to the driver, supposedly to ask a question. I let him out of attention, reaffirming inside my head that we can all become agitated– monks included! Went back to my book and noticed the return of bright orange. Didn’t look up this time. In a couple of minutes though, i could do nothing but look up: He was talking on the phone with a voice more like shouting. For a second i was surprised to hear what sounded like Vietnamese because i had automatically associated the orange with Tibet. ‘What do i know– nothing’, and i went back to my book– or at least tried to! In a few minutes, i felt a hand touch my knee, and as i looked up, the monk had his telephone pushed into my left hand. My face became a question mark, but i took the phone and said alo? A man on the other side was telling me in French that he should get down in such and such station. I repeated it to make sure i understood, and the woman from the other row told me to ask him which town– because there are at least a couple of stations by that name. So i obeyed, got the answer, and started telling the monk what he need to do. But he looked dumbfounded. So i asked him if he spoke English, to which he shook his head with anxiety. The poor young man was afraid of being lost, or he didn’t like not knowing where he is…He rushed back to the door at the stop light, and the driver was kind enough to open the door for him. A couple of passengers involved in the short story smiled, and so did i — hoping he’ll find his way alright. Before i went back to the book, i closed my eyes and reviewed all my assumptions and looked at some questions that popped up in the head: Is it possible for a Vietnamese not to speak French? If not, then what language was he speaking?
    And why did he give me his phone rather than the person nest to him, or the one next to me? Well, i got one answer right for today: The book i was holding in my hands was in Engligh ;))
    Maybe tomorrow, i’ll see through the other questions i’ve been swimming with– who knows?

  14. lisa 14 avril 2016 at 22 h 47 min - Reply

    It’s been a long day, managed to sit earlier than schedule this morning but not this evening, in a meeting till 22h30…
    I caught myself a couple of times during the day staring at objects, being the objects? and today’s question popping up, and yesterday’s and the day before… all bringing me back to just this.
    and now is time for bed so good night all 🙂 and a special thought for Baby Maru sending him my sleepiness!

  15. Christine 14 avril 2016 at 22 h 39 min - Reply

    Back from choir rehearsal. We studied a funny mixture of Russian, English,and German songs, sacred and profane texts; and to learn the pronounciation the group was repeating the german text after me. It reminded me of a priest reading a psalm and the community « answering ». It was a nice effect that woke up childhood memories.
    What is it ?? No idea.
    Good night everyone.

  16. Tomas 14 avril 2016 at 22 h 28 min - Reply

    Going up sitting. « What is ir? ». Objects – bookshelf, wooden beams, the cherry tree outside – all at the same ‘discreet/individuals ‘ and also ‘timeless’/as old as time/life extending in the past.
    Then I light a candle, incense, and sit. « What is it? ». Sleepy. Then 2min30sec into sleepin – crying baby, and shortl I’m back at changing diaper while Maru goes into a crying fit « shouter-supreme » type….maybe he will grow into a lead singer in some heavy metal band…sure seems to have the lungs for it…
    After the ‘episode’ I go back up and sit for another 7min30sec (completing my 10min slot « outside time », outside mind). « What is it? » It’s time to SLEEP!!

  17. Telma 14 avril 2016 at 22 h 24 min - Reply

    « In zen we don’t find the answers; we lose the questions »
    Karen Maezen Miller

    Surrounding the buildings where i work there are various kind of trees and among them are blooming orange trees. I couldn’t resist to bring to my altar at home a branch with some orange tree flowers. Their scent is very intense and aromatized my « zendo ».
    My evening zazen was beautified by white, green and gold. it’s hard most of the time at evening keeping eyes open and full attention. I don’t know how is it possible that everything is perfectly okay and right even when it doesn’t seem to be.

    « The state of not knowing does not imply a lack of learning; it is the totality of truth »
    idem

    Thank you.

  18. AdZ 14 avril 2016 at 22 h 11 min - Reply

    From the eye of cyclon,
    a vision rich of all
    crowds the eye and thus
    forces peace to soul

    Engage, says the entrepreneur,
    contemplate, says the mystic,
    beware, says the skeptic,
    behold, says the believer

    But after all, say thee,
    is there but nothing more
    than endless cyclons
    if life is eternity.

  19. Tomas 14 avril 2016 at 21 h 35 min - Reply

    Today driving back home from the office in the evening, « what is it? », silent/still mind, seeing everything in « 4-D », seeing with the eye of the heart, seeing blurred with feeling, seeing with the whole body. Smiling as everything shines with light, with life, as everything becomes closer, not as in ‘proximity’, but as in ‘familiarity’. « what is it? ». gateway to the heart, to the warmth intimacy of the 10,000 things 🙂

    Arrived home and have not yet been able to « sit », although I have been « sitting » in the bedroom with baby Maru who has been wide awake for longer than usual, refusing to sleep. None of my tricks worked tonight. But one thing is certain, we were both ‘sitting’ for quite a looooong time….eventually I failed, buy Joy managed to be more persuasive than I. Mother’s power! He is asleep now (for how long? who knows? not long for sure…). Time to go upstairs sit in the zafu for 10min and pay attention to ‘what is it’ 🙂

    Wishing everybody a good night here from the foot of the Jura mountains, Vesancy, close to Geneva! It has been a real pleasure sharing with you and reading all the beautiful messages 🙂

  20. Tiago 14 avril 2016 at 20 h 57 min - Reply

    Home. London. What is home? where is home? when is home? These questions made my mind fly over mountains and oceans for months since I « left home » years ago; before I realised it never was anywhere else – « Home is where the heart is ».

    I found it very difficult to connect to the questions earlier in the week – « who is/am I? » « who is/are you? ». The questions always felt like an intrusion on the natural flow of the day. Like something that didn’t belong there. Now, ‘What is it? » is a much more familiar question and the day flown with it. In doing so, instead of naming what I was seeing and handling, I tried to feel them, to see them for what they are, before speech or words of any kind came to it. As soon as there was a word, I felt there was a separation. Maybe that’s why « I » and « you » felt so strange….

    Yesterday I’ve put my salesman cap on and went up the street where all the antique dealers have their shops, introducing myself. I’ve passed by the first door twice before I got the guts to go in. Why? Because « I » was there — the shy, the insecure, the thoughts of failure, the what-am-I-going-to-say-and-if-they-don’t-like-me… As soon as both « I » and « Them » was gone I was able to do business.
    I felt lightweight.

    Going to work a bit more now, then zazen and sleep. Good night to you all.

  21. Beginners Mind 14 avril 2016 at 20 h 26 min - Reply

    Braga. Life always follows its path, not been able to sit in the morning I smiled when I saw todays suggestion: What is it? Seeing beyond seeing, the small details the other is not seeing although both of us are looking at it.
    Also is questioning, I heard once that the « Eureka » is not the important moment, the really important moment is when we ask the question « What is it? ».

  22. Kathleen 14 avril 2016 at 20 h 21 min - Reply

    I didn’t manage to contemplate an object today. It was a busy working day, with deadlines to meet and problems to solve. Thinking about objects I might have taken the time to look at differently made me realise how much emotion/memory/importance I attach to inanimate objects. The cup I use at work (we drink a lot of tea) was given to me by one of my stepdaughters and is therefore precious. The coat I wore today I bought in Chambéry while visiting a friend, the battered bag I carry my books and papers in I bought in San Francisco with another friend, whom I haven’t seen since. She doesn’t like to travel and my recent travels have taken me to other continents.

    All of these objects are loaded with meaning. Even the cherry tree in the garden of my building has a feeling of connection. It’s ‘my’ cherry tree, which I’m delighted to share with the other residents, but I still invest it with a feeling of ownership in my appreciation of its glorious pale-pink blossom. I want to stop everyone and tell them to look at it properly as they hurry past. By next week it may have lost all its petals, which are already beginning to carpet the ground beneath. The pleasure it gives me is all the more precious because it won’t last. Like this retreat. Tomorrow is the last day. It’s been wonderful to share it with you all. Obrigada.

  23. Evi 14 avril 2016 at 19 h 34 min - Reply

    Listening to the Sound of silence while laying on the sofa. Since I can remember to reflect upon life, I keep asking
    What is the world beyond my thoughts of it?
    What is life without me?

    When I was 30 years younger, these questions drove me close to serious craziness. Now they just drive me crazy sometimes, knowing experiences of non-thinking and no. Still, the brain wants to know and is involving in the world with thoughts. «Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.» My thinking mind is like a cat, biting in her own tail.

  24. marlene 14 avril 2016 at 18 h 50 min - Reply

    Two big black boxes over the sofa outside the zendo. What is this?
    I was picking herbs at the courtyard and in my hands,amongst the herbs, appeared a brilliant ring. What is this?

  25. Freddy Wembandju 14 avril 2016 at 18 h 50 min - Reply

    Brothers, sisters and mother from the Dharma
    Silently I with you and you with me…
    Thank you

  26. Cristina (Ocean of Generosity) 14 avril 2016 at 18 h 02 min - Reply

    O galo canta interrompe minha sesta. O que é isto?

  27. Manon 14 avril 2016 at 15 h 57 min - Reply

    Assise par terre, je me sens comme mes chaussures sur le tapis.

  28. marlene 14 avril 2016 at 14 h 39 min - Reply

    Yesterday I took the train from Lisbon to Tomar (center of Portugal). I arrived my mother’s home about 18 hours. The dog was jumping high and I tried to calm his joy.There was my mother looking at us and,after a while,dog more calm,we entered home. I went to my room and let my bags there. When I return, my mother, looking very quiet at me, asked : »don’t you say hello to me? » That made me look at her -as the whole world disappeared. At that moment « who am I?and who is she » no questions,no answers,we just were! mother and daughter? This are words to name our relation -that moment the two of us were in relation. it was a deep hug.
    .

  29. Rita 14 avril 2016 at 14 h 36 min - Reply

    Near Green Park, at a graphic design studio in Coimbra. In a subtle way the issue of the day came to my mind by bits. The handle of the umbrella in such a subtle curve upside down, soft, the torso of the african man walking down the steps of the bus moving like testing a position out of the body, rotating obliquely. the inner part of the sleeve feeling the round warm moving arm, the shoulder balancing in short angles scratching the shirt. Here writing at this computer, noticing that Cristina downstairs is writting too, up here only me admiring the 3 little cactus at my desk, green, breathing and imagining how soft must be under those cactus spines… It is all so quiet. Everything seems so much in its own space, in its own way. Oh new telephone call. Gave up. The sound of the telephone not wanting to call anyone.

  30. céu 14 avril 2016 at 8 h 20 min - Reply

    … depuis quelques mois, je lis tous les matins un petit peu du livre de Carl Sagan – Cosmos, c’est merveilleux, c’est comme une voyage entre nous, des êtres humains, l’histoire des humains et le Cosmos, ce que la cience connais de ce qui est en tour de nous; une voyage constant, de aller et retour et aller de nouveaux… what is it?

    « Durante tempos intermináveis, depois do desencadear explosivo de energia e de matéria do Big Bang, o Cosmos não tinha forma. Não existiam galáxias, nem planetas, nem vida, por toda a parte reinava uma escuridão profunda e impenetrável, só havia átomos de hidrogénio perdidos no vácuo. Aqui e ali cresciam imperceptivelmente acumulações mais densas de gás, condensavam-se globos de matéria – gotas de hidrogénio mais maciças que um sol. Dentro desses globos de gás acendeu-se o primeiro fogo nuclear latente no interior da matéria. Uma primeira geração de estrelas nasceu, enchendo o Cosmos de luz. Nesses tempos ainda não existiam planetas para receber essa luz, nem criaturas vivas que admirassem o brilho dos céus. Na profundeza das fornalhas estelares a alquimia da fusão nuclear criou elementos pesados, cinzas do hidrogénio queimado, elementos atómicos constituintes dos futuros planetas e formas de vida. As estrelas maciças depressa esgotaram as suas reservas de combustível nuclear. Sacudidas por explosões colossais, devolveram grande parte da sua substãncia ao gás ténue dentro do qual um dia se tinham condensado. Aí, nas grandes e sombrias nuvens das zonas inter-estelares, começaram a formar-se novas gotas constituidas por muitos elementos, de onde nasceram mais tarde novas gerações de estrelas. Nas proximidades, cresciam gotas menores, corpos demasiado pequenos para acender o fogo nuclear, gotitas entre os corpos celestes a caminho de se tornarem planetas. Entre elas, um pequeno mundo de pedra e ferro: a jovem Terra. »
    …(Carl Sagan – Cosmos)

    What is it?

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