This Is All We Have

The absence of much else other than sitting, facing the wall, and breathing can be a little surprising to some who try zazen for the first time. No dogma, no need to believe or disbelieve in anything specific. Just a simple leap into presence.

For me—and maybe for others who have grown up in a future-oriented religious tradition and have now integrated Zen practice into our lives—this simplicity takes time to sink in. I try to just let it sink in naturally as it will, coming back to zazen, to being present outside the dojo with family, with work, with leisure. No expectations, no looking to some better place practice is supposed to lead to.

“This is all we have, here and now. This is the way of Zen. This is the way of the Cosmos. This is the way of all existences” (Robert Livingston Roshi).

I appreciate that Zen cuts away everything that is not essential. Simple practice, here and now. Simplicity of life.


Livingston, Robert. Kusen: Oral Teaching No. 2. American Zen Association and New Orleans Zen Temple, 1997.

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