But I loved it. We should treat every life as precious, and strive to honor those in our lives. Sitting in Zazen Zen meditation with eyes open, we practice just sitting, just breathing, just being. You are not to intervene. I should mention that I typically drink decaf and prefer a gentle vanilla flavored coffee, so this was pretty intense for me. The following week, walking into the meditation hall early in the morning, I was happy to see Mark back on the cushion, and I took my place on the cushion to his right. I had assumed, that first day when we sat down to talk, that it would be over tea. For a few weeks, I sat on a cushion beside Mark. Someone told me later that morning that they had left together to talk about some things.
Later that night in a Zen class, the Zen priest explained that even when someone has an experience that leads them out of the center, it is not for us to jump up after him or her. There is a Zen chant that goes like this: The Zen priest emphasizes that while we sit together, each experience on the cushion belongs to that person, and that person alone. We notice our thoughts are jumping from story to story and we return to the breath, inhaling and exhaling. We should put away our cell phones when we are in the grocery store checkout and say hello to the cashier and the person bagging our groceries. Did I remember to pay the electricity bill? Each of us should strive to awaken. Mark would often be in charge of making the coffee, and when he finished, he typically poured me the first cup. Instead, we would acknowledge one another by putting our palms together and offering a slight bow. One evening, at the Zendo for a meditation sitting, Mark abruptly jumped up from his cushion and left the center. Sitting on the cushion, our minds can wander to a myriad of things. But all are real and a part of life. I had assumed, that first day when we sat down to talk, that it would be over tea. Buddhism is all about letting go of attachments, including ideas, so it was good for me to have one of my expectations challenged. Let me respectfully remind you Life and death are of supreme importance. We need to honor that. We should honor the fact that both on the cushion and in life, people are entitled to their own experience, but there is a time to connect in a shared moment of humanity. We should stop checking our emails when we are engaged with someone in conversation. Someone told me later that morning that they had left together to talk about some things. He had grey hair that hung to the middle of his back, and a beard that touched base around the center of his chest. I look at the month of knowing Mark, and wonder how it might have been different had I known it was his last month on this Earth. Be in peace, dear Mark. After meditation, I lingered over the fuel-laden coffee chatting with Mark and the others. I always felt very awake and alive during these times. I learned this past weekend that Mark had died. Do not squander your life.
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