stop the sound – zen

“step by step

I stop the sound

of the murmuring brook.”

Shunryu Suzuki

How can I stop the sound of the tumultuous river we are now immersed in and find Peace, if I cannot stop the sound of the murmuring brook of my own thoughts? Peace is the key to freedom.

In my experience I don’t so much “stop” my thoughts as that I step out of the stream of conditioned consciousness, of the dualistic perspective as me and objects that surround me. Stepping out of this “murmuring brook” I simply release my interest in any thoughts and where they might lead me. Any “problems” to solve are left for later, and soon I find myself in a space of peace. This space is always available and it is for me always a new experience to find myself in it. I do know that I am never in that space when there is much tension built up in my mind-body-spirit complex, so to relax is always good.

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We say, “Step by step I stop the sound of the murmuring brook.” When you walk along the brook you will hear the water running. The sound is continuous, but you must be able to stop it if you want to stop it. This is freedom; this is renunciation. One after another you will have various thoughts in your mind, but if you want to stop your thinking you can. So when you are able to stop the sound of the murmuring brook, you will appreciate the feeling of your work. But as long as you have some fixed idea or are caught by some habitual way of doing things, you cannot appreciate things in their true sense.

source: Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, p. 112

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