Saturday, March 16, 2019

Being Peace

by Elihu Genmyo Smith

Life is being peace, being awake.

Being awake is zazen; zazen is being peace.

Being peace is not being perturbed by changing conditions. Not being perturbed even by body changing, mind changing, not being perturbed even by the changing condition of being perturbed.

Life, this life we are living right now, is the opportunity to be peace as this universe – even this universe when we are not-at-peace, the universe which seems to us not-at-peace. Living this universe, zazening, nurtures and supports us being at peace.

How are we not-at-peace? Not-at-peace manifests at times for me when someone I am close to, someone I love, is pained, is ill - especially my children, even though they are adults. For you, it might be when you are ill and pained, or have been so for a long time and there seems to be no healing resolution. Or not-at-peace might be when some terrible violence is being done by people to “others”, humans or other beings.

We are, and we can be, just sitting in the midst of ongoing changing, non-thinking in the midst of arising passing; not doing even peace. Non-doing is doing this moment as is. This being peace and ongoing changing is not-two.

Life is ongoing discovering of the ways we are unwilling or unable to be-at-peace in the midst of living being peace, not be-at-peace in the midst of ongoing change; to notice our specific way of not-willing to be the unperturbed life we are. Discovering not-at-peace is our practice reminder and invitation.
This moment may be self-centered attachment in the midst of peace, agitation and even pain in midst of doing peace, peace in the midst of clinging, peace in the midst of reactive habits; this life is ongoing changing, nothing else.

Are we unable to be-at-peace in the midst of this experiencing, unwilling or unable to be at peace bodily, at peace in various mind states of this functioning moment. Are we unwilling to be this form of “clinging experiencing” peace – despite being peace? This unfortunately results in and compounds suffering and harming. And it offers us the suffering reminder to see, do and be what is, to do what is called for in this moment peace - to liberate knowing, liberate not-knowing.

The 6th Ancestor said, “sitting is not giving rise to, not holding to, thoughts regarding whatever objects; zen is seeing, experiencing, our nature without becoming perturbed.” He further states, “Not seeing others and circumstances in terms of right or wrong, good or bad, or shortcoming, is being imperturbable nature.”

We can be caught up in reacting to changing body-mind conditions, changing world conditions. Have you found this in your life?

Are there thoughts and feelings, clinging, that blind you to this peace moment, hinder the doing and experiencing peace in the midst of changing circumstances? Do we miss this that we cannot be other than? Even being blinded to peace is the opportunity of manifesting peace.

Do we “go on about” self or others - humans, animals, diseases, demands, afflictions and world conditions? Are these ways that we cling to dualistic views, hold to should and should not, thereby missing who we always are, missing the peace right here? What is true in your life?
What is experiencing peace? What is experiencing peace bodily, doing peace in our actions? What is mind at peace? Please reflect on this. Please attend to body-mind sitting, muscles and sinews, to arising-passing emotion-thought. Please settle in this sitting, in sensing here, this experiencing moment, body, breath. What is excluded from peace? What excludes peace for you?

When do we find that we are not-at-peace? What is occurring? Please look closely at what you do or are knowing this moment, what embodying is, what enminding is.

We might find entangling in thoughts, in feelings, in greed or anger; might find that we hold and react physically, bodily, mentally, to “being” saddened, sorrowed, or desirous of changes in exertions and actions. What are the results of what we do, what others do?


A form of being peace is zazening, zazening in formal sitting and throughout life functioning. This allows and supports us to sense, be present in the midst of what is occurring, what we are doing, including doing not-at-peace, doing what seems to stop and hinder peace. In formal zazen we may more easily sense entangling and believed emotion-thought chatter, even simply clenched jaws, tensed shoulders.

When we hold and cling to not-at-peace, our responses, reactions, are pouring oil on fire. We do this in attachments and entanglements, pouring confusion, anger and greed onto the fires of not-peace beliefs, desires and sorrows. Even if our intentions are peaceful, are not to enlarge the fires, sometimes we are blinded by self-centeredness, by self-other ideas, by ideals, reactive habits, and are not present, not this experiencing moment.

In one way, zazening is an antidote to tendencies of pouring oil on fire, an alternative to adding to fires which burn self and others, the life of the universe.

Nevertheless, life is being peace even in being perturbed. Being peace, we can welcome and take good care, be joyously all sorts of perturbances. When not being peace, even when we are unperturbed we may not quite be so. Being imperturbable we can welcome all these perturbances, we can take good care in the midst of being perturbed.

Though we know this very well – yet we may miss this. Therefore, our practice is ongoing, atonement is over and over. In doing peace, being the peace we are, being sitting, zazening, we are supported experiencing - and with that we may sense, taste and appreciate who we are, do what we are doing, be the peace of life, doing what is called for this moment, this ongoing changing.

Remembering, knowing, experiencing, and sensing in all the ways you can – something terrible, non-clinging, let go of entangling. Something wonderful, non-clinging, let go of entangling. Not clinging, not avoiding, not knowing, is exactly this moment experiencing, this doing as you are. Life as it is, life as it is not.

There is much about which we may be “not-at-peace.” Our practice is, in midst of this, being this peace – experiencing, and as appropriate, noticing, clarifying this.

Live experiencing body-mind, live experiencing arising passing in this very world life.

Please live doing this moment. Being this, being peace, is responding to circumstances, manifesting this peace. Be this peace you are.

© 2019 Elihu Genmyo Smith