Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mountain Path

Hello All,

This is a case that many maybe can relate to. How often have you felt
noisy? How often have you felt noisy in the dokusan room, or on the
dokusan line waiting to meet knee-to-knee with the teacher? How often
have you started preparing while still in the zendo? I wonder, and
this is not a wondering worthy of your zazen time, who it is you are
talking to when you are going about in your head? Are you explaining,
judging, arguing, defending? To who, for what? Please investigate the
source of your patterned narrative for it often leads away from the
mountain tops that have no walls.

As is always the case, what you find yourself doing in zazen, dokusan
and on the line, is exactly how you carry yourself in your daily life.
Because we are quiet enough in the stillness of zazen, we are able to
notice the intimate surroundings and landscapes of our own brains, of
our own chatter, of our narrative and dialog. Some have asked me, "Why
am I so noisy when I practice?" I think it isn't that we are so noisy
while practicing. In fact, it is the inverse. You are beginning to
quiet and so are able to hear and experience the reality of your day
to day thought-feeling activities. Our culture is quite noisy. Our
schools, churches and places of business bustle with noise. Even our
alone personal lives are filled with noise--radios and CD players in
the cars, television and computer streaming at home, headphones when
we are walking, biking and traveling. What a gift to have someone say,
"You are noisy. Go away for awhile." Is there a way you can build, not
this admonishment but encouragement, into your life as you go back and
forth from here to there---"You are noisy...go away for awhile."

In the teisho, Keizan said, "...when he (Wukong) set his mind to Zen
study he still worked especially hard." Most of us would take those
words as a compliment--oh, s/he works very hard. But in this case, and
in Zen generally, these words are not praise. When we work at our
zazen, we miss zazen. When we work at the dialog in dokusan, we miss
the person directly in front of us. When we work at eating, walking or
working mindfully, we completely miss the joy and surprise of those
activities. When we focus in this way, we have a goal in mind whether
consciously or not and that goal subtly leads us down its path and so
we blindly stumble past the path of zen which is before us. Nan-ch'uan
said, "If you try to direct yourself, you go away from it."

The path of zen is, of course, wherever we are but it is most easily
located in the mountains, deserts,  canyons and waterways of this
enchanted land we live on. The green stitching on the back of the
rakusu is a reminder that we are walking a mountain path. (or maybe we
can say, is a reminder that we are part of a mountain path?) Sometimes
we are stuck in the cities and towns of our lives and that is OK but
when we can, it is important to move towards the p(a)laces where the
natural rhythms of the world are most easily located. And once we
arrive, all we need do is stop. & stop! & stop! It doesn't matter if
you sit, stand, lay down or walk. What does matter is that you do
nothing-- but please do not make doing nothing into something. Of
course, you may still be noisy but, just as in zazen, open your hands
and trust... Trust what? Trust what it is that brought you to this
very moment, to this point, to this place. And then, with no need for
a response, ask yourself, "What is your own self prior to the empty
eon?" or "What is your own face before your parents were born?" Stay
away from asking, "Who am I?" or "What is it?" These last two
questions invite speculation and too much thoughtfulness whereas the
earlier questions take your breath away. And when your breath is lost,
look up---do you see any walls? Really? Allow the joy that you are to
surprise you and take delight in it.

Some years later and in a slightly different context, the teacher
Wukong asked, "Is there anyone here who has not experienced joy? If
you are lucky and do not have a bit in your mouths or a saddle on your
backs, you must each apply yourselves to the means of awakening." You
are lucky to have been born with legs, arms, eyes, mouths etc just as
the Buddha was. He was born from a male and female just like you. He
cried, laughed, competed, won, lost and grew tired...just like you.
Your form and his form are not different so you have the same capacity
which he had to wake-up. And though he initially tried and tried, what
he found was just sitting under a tree on the dirt and letting go into
what is was the way to know the body, the face that is before the
empty eon.


ps. I will stay in touch with you this week and tell you how my
sesshin prep is going. If I am behind on teisho writing, I may forego
the next two weeks with you but I will be back to it the week after
sesshin ends. There are still empyty seats at sesshin, so please feel
free to join us. Mountain Lamp is a beautiful place to practice
sitting, walking, eating and working together.

1 comment :

  1. Attendees

    We struggled with the pronunciation of the names of the Chinese masters. China is a big melting pot. China is not just one thing.

    These cases compress the time from encounter to “enlightenment”.

    Mountain tops have no walls.

    We are so so stubborn. We work hard at letting go. Striving and pushing is good at the beginning to get you on the cushion. But not so good later in practice. Qingliao was caught up in striving to answer the question. He spent time relaxed in the moment and saw through the self on top of the mountain. There is a shift that wants to happen between staving and relaxing.

    No walls on the top of the mountain depends on the weather.

    What if we had no fear?

    We talked of ‘patterned narrative” and boji Zen.
    Okie dokey.


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