Saturday, September 10, 2011


Today, our walking meditation takes us by a pond, partially filled with water lilies.  The flowers have bloomed and gone now, at this time of year.  Many things changing in the woods around us. 

Frogs jump away as we walk by.  The statue of Jizo sits watching the pond.  The air is cool and fresh. 

We continue on, in silence, listening.

We share this quiet place with others, some too shy to be seen but only heard; others who stop and watch as we walk by.

In his book, Going Beyond Buddha, Zen Master Dae Gak instructs us on listening.

He says we should not identify with what is heard.  We should just listen without interpretation of what is heard.  What does that mean?  Well, he says most of us listen through a particular template brought on by years and years of conditioning habits.  We filter the world through this template.  When you practice listening as a meditation, you should drop particular forms and habits of hearing.  And just listen.

I know I react to much of what is around me.  My life is wrapped up in these reactions.  Example:

I hear the neighbor's dog bark.  I immediately place my template over that sound - what template is that?  The one that says, "Why is that dog always barking?  Why does my neighbor walk his dog into my yard and let his dog bark at me when I'm outside in my own yard?  I don't like weiner dogs (the dog barking is a Dachshund); I don't like dogs barking all the time."  WOW!  That's a lot of stuff from just a dog's bark, isn't it?  But's it's there - so quickly I don't even realize it's all there.  I'm not listening - I'm spending time interpreting a sound or sounds that may be long gone! 

And what does the interpretation bring up?  Anger, frustration, irritation...all those feelings - from just the bark of a little short-legged, sausage-shaped dog!  I've spent a lot of time and energy on that, haven't I? 

Just listening is not easy.  I guess that's why they call it practice?

Time for more walking meditation. 
Come with me. 
Should we walk to the top of the mountain today?  We'll go slowly so we can listen to all the sounds along the way.  Then we'll sit at the top and see the trees changing their foliage from summer to autumn and listen to the breeze blowing through the trees.

We'll sit for a while, and rest...
and listen.


William Cook said...

That was one of the most special posts I've ever seen! I've been plagued by these conditioned responses--they don't let up. I need to hear your lesson often. Ease up, stop with the judgments, listen to the great procession, and deeply appreciate the opportunity to experience it. Walking meditation is such a cool idea. I am tracking with you on this one for sure. I like you little sketches.

RH Carpenter said...

Yes, Bill, you don't have to just sit and stare at the wall - walk and listen and walk and chant and walk :) Even if it's only outside in your back yard. Thanks for following along.

hw (hallie) farber said...

Interesting. As I read this the computer is whirring; I've heard it before but never thought about it--not annoying, just there.

Katherine Thomas said...

This is a great idea! I like your thoughts on the dog barking. My neighbors do the same thing, all day long. I have a dog too, and I'm so embarrassed when he barks outside, I hustle him indoors right away... Then he can only annoy me... Love your paintings, they are so fresh and tell such a story!

Pam Johnson Brickell said...

Loving this!

Linda Young said...

A really nice post Rhonda. I can relate to this one very much as yesterday I took my walk "with you" and listened to the sounds of the rain pouring down for still another day. Sitting alone, my meditation was to just hear and be with it. It brought an inner peace and calm to me. I know you've found it in your walk too. Blessings,

RH Carpenter said...

Thanks, Katherine and Hallie. Hallie, we usually tune out so much around us - how can we be aware when we're filtering so much? But, of course, sometimes in order to get anything done, you have to filter out the small nuisance noises.

RH Carpenter said...

Thanks, Pam and Linda - Linda, thanks for walking with me and listening to the rain :)

Anonymous said...

Nice!!!!!! I had a dog barking experiece myself today...and somehow I surprised myself by feeling friendly toward the dog (it was a very cute little dog tied up outside of a shop). And when I asked it nicely to shush, it did!

Thanks for that.