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ANDREW SHUGYO DAIJO BONNICI, PH.D.
Applied Zen Meditation Therapy & Core-Self Based Embodiment

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BEING THE WAY AND ITS VIRTUE

Copyright August 1, 2000
All Rights Reserved by Dr. Bonnici
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Meditation is the Refuge of our Life and Death

Dear Faith Walkers and Life Journeyers,

There is a word in Japanese that I use when teaching the life of Zen and the practice of Applied Meditation Therapy®. This word is "Jotoku". The meaning of Jotoku has special relevance for aligning and balancing the bright inner posture and daily behavioral practice of your engaged meditation and spiritual life Way. "Jo" in Japanese means "quiet" and "toku" means" virtue". Thus, Jotoku literally translates as "Quiet Virtue".

Jotoku as virtue should not be confused with the self-righteous virtue that promotes arrogance, ignorance, separation and animosity between the saved and the unsaved, the believer and the disbeliever, the sinner and the saint, the moral and the immoral. Rather, "Jotoku" can be understood as the "natural goodness or innate virtue" of things and beings just as they are. This means that when our original nature is like an uncarved jewel or untouched by social or cultural conditioning, its essence is neither pure nor defiled. It just is. For example, the virtue of the sky is openness, the virtue of the ocean is depth, the virtue of infinite space is shining darkness, the virtue of the sun is brightness, the virtue of water is wetness.

In this respect, the virtue of humanness is "Just Being". When we are "Just Being", we cut off the driven-ness of our doing, the urgency of going somewhere, and the obsessive concern to become somebody. When we rest in the dynamic stillness and peaceful virtue of "human beingness", our felt experience within our body is deep fulfillment and joyfully content. When we experience our original virtue as profound stillness and embodied peace, "just being human" expresses itself in our authenticity, humility, sincerity, openness, spontaneity, and compassion for self and others. We reveal the quiet virtue of our original nature when our behavior demonstrates these unselfconscious qualities of a true human being.

The translation of the Japanese word Toku as Virtue has its roots in the 2,500 year-old Chinese text called the "Tao Te Ching". "Ching" in Chinese means Book. "Te" is translated as Virtue and is the same meaning as "Toku" in Japanese. "Tao" (pronounced Dao) is translated as "The Way". Thus, Tao Te Ching is translated as the Book of the Way and Its Virtue. "Tao", as the Way, refers to an Infinite Source that creatively manifests, upholds, and returns all beings and things to Itself while remaining eternally mysterious, nameless and formless. "Te", on the other hand, is the Way's vast and subtle wisdoming (Its Quiet Virtue) that orchestrates the dynamic integrity, individuality, and interconnectedness of all living and non-living forms (great or small) throughout infinite time and space. All human beings can live in harmony with the Way and Its Virtue by constantly arousing a sincerely felt gratitude for "just being", listen with all the cells of their body to an infinite and nameless Source of Vast Wisdoming, and behaviorally express the truth of Oneness and mutual equality amidst all their differences and distinctions.

When human beings acknowledge and embrace the Way, they manifest the wisdoming of their innate Virtue by accepting each others individual uniqueness and differences while acknowledging the truth of Oneness, mutual equality and interdependency with each other, all of Nature, and the Universe as a Whole. This embracing of the Way and Its Virtue is no other than a human being's arousal of an Original Faith before all cultures, religions, ideas, and beliefs. By arousing this Original Faith in the Way and Its Virtue, human beings authentically manifest and accept the truth of their momentary existence within the eternal womb of an Infinite Universe. Authentically manifest means to "be that human being" which one truly is in each moment of vast impermanence. To be authentic is exactly the embodiment of compassionate openness and vulnerability to both life and death. Authenticity, genuineness, clarity, integrity, and spontaneity are all qualities of Te or Innate Virtue.

We see the pristine beauty and clarity of Innate Virtue most readily in young infants and toddlers. This is why our hearts and minds trustingly respond to them so easily and naturally. Infants and toddlers manifest the Way and Its Virtue without the need of any cultural development or external religious standards. They are just expressing their basic goodness and innate virtue by spontaneously being themselves before language, thoughts and thinking mind. As children learn their name and begin to think in words, they tend to become less intimate with this natural and spontaneous goodness, this Way and Its Virtue. They quickly learn from social verbal patterns and coping behaviors how to manipulate the environment to adapt and survive in a world filled with multiple standards, beliefs, expectations, and ever-changing demands.

The true practice of Meditation is exactly the recovery of our intimacy with the Way and Its Virtue. We all knew this natural intimacy in our early years before we understood our name or began thinking in words. Meditation can be understood as the practice of reawakening to this Original Truth of Intimacy with the Way and Its Virtue. When we study meditation as reawakening to the Way and Its Virtue we are in fact studying how to live our life as the daily practice of truth, liberation, wisdom, faith, compassion, and courage. Seated meditation as the template for reawakening is the practice of just sitting down with sincere alertness, faithfully returning to breath, and simply resting in the everywhere Virtue and immediate wholeness of bright body wisdoming.

"Te" or Quiet Virtue is living everyday life as the body of meditation. Living the body of meditation as everyday life is the practice of being human or deepening our understanding of humanity and the human condition. When we practice the body of meditation as quiet virtue, we yield to the ever present reality of our impermanence in this Only Moment while listening with openness and trust to a Vast Wisdoming Stillness (the Way) within ourselves and all beings and things just as they are. Quiet Virtue is exactly seated meditation--- "Just sitting in this Only Moment with wakefulness and a deep confidence in Vast Wisdoming (Original Faith) ". Meditation, in this respect, is trustfully listening (Original Faith) with our whole bodymind to that innately genuine integrity (Vast Wisdoming Oneness) within our selves and the Universe as a Whole.

Rising from our seated meditation, engaging in the activity of our everyday life, we continue to nourish the quality of sincere inner listening and embodied faith before all our beliefs and thinking mind. When we live meditation as the body of "Quiet Virtue", we practice listening within and without to a Vast Wisdoming Silence in all our daily mundane activities and relationships, just as they are. Quiet Virtue is to dedicate our whole life and our whole bodymind to listening fervently to that Vast Wisdoming Stillness that penetrates both life and death. This listening is before our thinking mind or any thoughts or ideas about our selves as unique personalities. It is listening from the deepest experience of being within our body or the felt sense of being our human body moment by moment. This is wholehearted body listening as a human being. Meditation is this endless practice of listening with all the pores of our body to a Vast Wisdoming that illuminates the Way and Its Virtue even amidst the limitations of our thinking mind, inner chatter, reactive behavior, preferences, beliefs, desires, and expectations. Meditation in the midst of daily life is exactly the practice of whole body listening to the Way and its Virtue moment by moment. This daily practice of deep somatic listening is in fact the expression of our Innate Virtue and the embodied Way of living enlightenment.

As we commit ourselves daily to deep somatic listening, human authenticity, original faith, and compassionate interconnectedness with all beings and things, let us throw our whole life force into the practice of the Way and Its Virtue for the mutual benefit of self and all sentient beings. By throwing our whole life force into living the Way and Its Virtue as the daily practice of seated and engaged life meditation, we liberate our spiritual courage to meet the situations of our life with actions based on the body of faith, the mind of clarity, and the heart of openness and compassion. This means that when our whole life force is committed to our meditation life practice, we release the full potency of our innate vitality, aliveness, caring, creativity, and wisdoming within all the mundane experiences of our daily life and relationships. In this way, our meditation practice literally infuses our daily mundane activities and experiences with the breath of freshness, wonder, gratitude, and compassionate action for self and others.

This relationship between the discipline of throwing our whole life force into our engaged meditation practice while being compassionate with ourselves is a paradox that each of us is called to daily examine in our own life. When looking at that paradox, we must remember that being overly willful in disciplining ourselves only hinders the liberation of our fullest potential for manifesting the body of ease, the mind of wisdoming, and the heart of joy and compassion. On the other hand, if we do not make our meditation practice the center of our life, we do not generate sufficient life force to experience the satisfaction of our wholeheartedness nor the precious meaning of living as a growing and deepening human being. With these thoughts in mind, I encourage you to continue to throw your whole life force into living meditation, to always extend compassion to yourself and others, and to celebrate the practice of your everyday life and relationships as exactly the Way and Its Virtue.


with Blessings and Encouragement,

Dr. Bonnici

Copyright August 1, 2000

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