assume the position

In zazen, we assume the position of seated meditation. Erect posture, firm yet relaxed. We maintain the position, regardless of what comes up in the mind. If we “wake up” to find ourselves sagging a bit, we simply re-assume the position and continue sitting. By assuming the position, we are kinglike, self-respecting, non-judging, accepting, relaxed. Whatever comes up, we welcome it. Simply by assuming the position and maintaining it, we become the attributes that we’ve assumed. Over time, equinimity, peace, understanding come.

In veganism, we assume the diet of non-harming. We avoid all animal products; meat, dairy, fish. These foods are associated with the suffering of animals (including dairy — which I did not realize until recently). Even if we aren’t sure we care, or how we feel about the animals, by assuming the position we reap the benefits. Over time we allow ourselves to look deeply into our food, and we make space for our compassion. We may also begin to look and feel healthier and more energetic. We don’t need to have fully analyzed the consequences of this dietary position. Analysis is no substitute for experience anyway. We can simply assume the position, and over time, peace and compassion come.

In our daily lives, we can assume the position of happiness. Wherever we are, whenever we are, we can decide to put on a big smile and act as though we love life and are wonderfully happy. Even if we are not happy, assuming this position does its work. When we smile a big, thorough, genuine smile, and maintain it, we may find ourselves becoming happy in spite of our previous feelings. With time and practice, joy grows within us.

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