What does it mean to live within, and how do we approach this in the midst of the movement of life? What is taking place in me now within this vessel? Are there tensions in my body? What is the taste of my emotional state right now? How about the thoughts that are passing through? I need to be in question about this continually as a way of practice. A capacity that need to be cultivated that can separate from all of my functions, be it thought, emotions, or bodily tensions to see them more objectively. This is extremely difficult because for one reason, I forget. I am swept away by the movement of life and secondly, I see that I normally live in a continual state of reaction. Because all of my energy is being taken to external things, there is no room for this quiet inner contemplation. I have no emotional energy invested in it, so I remain indifferent to the possibility of a radically different sense of being alive, of another order of things.  How do I resist being passively pulled out by all of these forces? Can I allow this body to be inhabited by a presence that is stronger than all of that?

Ray Bradbury once wrote: “We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?” I think he addresses an extremely important question here. I see that I am not bothered enough, for is often in unusual circumstances or when things don’t go according to my expectations that an opportunity can present itself. For a moment there is an interruption in my usual routines and habits. Suffering can provide a shock that can awaken us to something much larger and unknown than the small cramped world of “I, me, and mine.” But what is required of me?

I need to stand in front of myself as I am, without trying to escape it. I need to mobilize the whole of myself, not just my head a-thinking in me. It is only through acceptance and this silent watchfulness that something can be transformed.  In those moments, I can be in question. I can awaken to the fact that I am not just my habits and conditioning. Perhaps a feeling of gratitude can be awakened and I can have a sense of what it really means to be alive.

Pictured: A Buddhist priest prays for the souls of the victims still not found in the rubble, Yamada, Japan from The New York Times: Photo of the Day.