Sunday Sermon
Monkey Mind

"More snap."
"Higher release."
"More layover."
"More off the wind."
"Too low."
"More wrist."
"Use this wind - throw NOW."
"Too flat - pulled a Kitty."
"Needs more spin."

Insert a 15-40 yard chase in between each sentence above, and you have a beginners day at the boomerang field. There is so much to remember, and so much to correct. It can be fun if improvement is visible, but when progress is nothing more than going home a bit less sore than the last practice, it can be hard to be kind to ourselves. Sometimes during that walk downrange, we shake our heads and chide ourselves for making the same mistakes over and over again.

While meditating, we often fail every few breaths. Our concentration breaks, and we must realize that we have left the path, and usher ourselves back to it. One meditation tradition calls this "monkey mind," because we snatch at any shiney thought that comes by.

It can be hard to be kind to the monkey mind. We often feel that we should be better, smarter, stronger, or whatever "-er" word you want to put there. Sometimes we criticize and harass ourselves until meditation, or throwing boomerangs, or whatever you are trying to learn becomes absolute torture. It is at these times that we must be our most compassionate.

Now, don't get crazy - I'm not recommending that we let ourselves continue to screw up - certainly, we need to correct our mistakes, but we must do so with gentleness. Zen masters of the past have often shown a gentle but self-deprecating humor when speaking of themselves or their students. The Haiku master Basho wrote,

"At our moon viewing party,
There is no one,
With a beautiful face."

Robert Aitken Roshi jokingly paraphrased it like, "what a bunch of homely bastards we are, staring at the moon." Their was no lack of love in either Basho or Aitken - rather a humourous acceptance of themselves and their immediate company, warts, pimples, and all.

This sort of acceptance gives us the opportunity to admit our errors, while supporting us in our struggle to get ourselves back on the path. We can laugh at our mistakes, or even at our propensity to make the same mistake, but still be firm in our resolve to correct them.

So this week, show yourself some compassion. Don't flog yourself over every little error. Tame the monkey (or the boomerang) with gentleness. Recognize your mistakes, joke with yourself about them, and gently put yourself right.

Go in Peace.


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