Who is Jizo? Or first, what is cognition? Or maybe the first question is, what is mindfulness?
Most of us want to cut to the chase. We want results and we want them now. When we can’t get what we want, we get anxious, depressed, angry. And if we get there, we want to Stay There and Never Change.
But all of the above is impossible.
So, let’s all take a breath and slow down. First, before mindfulness or the deeper choices of cognition, comes grounding. That’s where Jizo comes in. Some 2,500 years ago, Jizo promised Buddha that he would stay on earth until everyone was finished suffering. His Sanskrit name Ksitigarbha roughly translates to Earth Womb or Earth Treasury. That means he is the Buddhist equivalent of Mother Earth in human form.
Jizo is the ground beneath our worried feet. A source of stability that mindfulness can be built on.
We would like to be mindful, to be aware of the present moment. But we are too busy to slow our racing minds. And we think we are failing if we cannot quiet the thinking. With Jizo comes compassion for that velocity-addicted brain whose frontal lobe has lost its ability to choose what we think. There are just too many thoughts.
So, we begin by considering the ground. We feel our feet upon the earth as we walk. Heel-toe-heel-toe, the curve of our feet as they move us on the earth. We notice the air around us. Quiet air, cold air, warm air, noisy air. We feel it on our skin. We notice our bodies moving in the world. We practice what Jon Kabat-Zinn calls “awarenessing.”
From there, we notice the “monkey mind” chattering away, making grocery lists and bugging us about what we should have said or done at some point in the past.
Once we are grounded, we can begin to be mindful and finally, we can begin to decide, gently, what to think.
More about that another time. For now, begin where you are. Feet on the ground, your back against the chair, butt on the meditation cushion, head upon your neck upon your shoulders.