Ninety Thousand Subtle Gestures



I have often said that awakening requires one to be present to the smallest details of one's everyday existence, moments that your ego will tell you are insignificant, unimportant, and unworthy of your attention, such as sitting at a stoplight, doing chores around the house, etc. As my teacher used to say, "Life provides you with everything you need to awaken."

I was reminded of the importance of being present to the small moments this morning while reading Your True Home: The everyday wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. It's a book consisting of 365 pages, each of which contains a few paragraphs of text designed to assist you in living a life of presence and intention. I try to read a page every morning for daily inspiration. 

In the following excerpt, a Zen master is observing whether his student is or is not "awake." 

If, for example, the student shuts the door noisily or carelessly, she is demonstrating a lack of mindfulness. Closing the door gently is not in itself a virtuous act, but awareness of the fact that you are closing the door is an expression of real practice. In this case, the master simply reminds the student to close the door gently, to be mindful...It is said in Buddhism that there are ninety thousand "subtle gestures" to practice. These gestures are acts of expression of the presence of mindfulness.

Life provides us each and every day with thousands of moments in which to be present, thousands of moments to engage the soul. The problem is our day to day lives become habitual and routine and we forget to be mindful to the smallest of moments. This is the key to one's practice, to remember that each and every moment is worthy of our attention.

I certainly allow many subtle gestures to go unnoticed each day, lost in thought or distracted by my imagination. I try to let them go and not beat myself up over lost opportunities to be present. I am continually reminding myself that every moment is a new moment in which to practice mindfulness, that the present moment is the only moment that truly matters, and no matter what I'm doing in any given moment, it's a moment worthy of my full attention. 

I sincerely hope this serves you in your desire for spiritual growth. 



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