As the sun set on 2016, the invitation for self-reflection, review and renewal is brighter, wider and greater than ever. Considering the past, contemplating the future and noticing where we are in the present is the precise work of a spiritual practice. The changing nature of life is inherent. Creation and destruction innately part of the process. So we have the opportunity now to ask: Who we are becoming? What aspects of ourselves are we strengthening as we evolve? Syncing up and aligning our outer world with our inner experience, values and understanding is specifically what this practice prepares us to do.
In the Zen tradition, the teachings point to 3 Fruits of Practice; what we grow when we tend to our garden in this way. It’s said that the fruits we cultivate are: Concentration, Enlightenment, Actualization. The first fruit blossoms as we expand our capacity for focus/awareness/Concentration – the art of sustaining our own attention. The second fruit is realizations, clarity, understanding, Enlightenment. The most magnificent fruit is the final one. Actualization – how we behave, the steps we take, the words we speak, the ways we spend money and time, whatever offerings and energy we put out into the world – is the greatest spiritual practice we can endeavor. My hero Jack Kornfield says, “Greed, hatred and ignorance cause suffering. Let them go. Love, generosity and wisdom bring the end of suffering. Foster them.”
As you consider your path, I encourage you to recommit to the practices that nourish the qualities you most want to embody, the ones you yearn to offer to all the lives you touch.