— Final Exam
Jundo and Taigu’s series on Zazen for Beginners — for, we are all always beginners — concludes today, although truly never ending, never beginning.
The most important thing to take with you, in this “race to nowhere but here,” is to keep on sitting. And though this practice is beyond all thought of time and space, give it time! Already, a few beginner folks have written me to express disappointment at not yet seeing the expected inner peace, wisdom and harmony that they thought comes within a few days from Zazen practice. Keep on sitting, give it some time!
Zazen is not that different from many skills in that way, such as learning to play the piano, speak a new language. So, some frustration is to be expected, and is even part of the process as the little “self” resists being put “out of a job”… for the self resists dropping resistance, does not like to give up its likes and dislikes, selfishly fights losing its selfishness, does not know how to truly be still without need to keep moving. “Enlightenment” is neither sudden nor gradual, and thus is a lifetime practice. Things take time… do not happen overnight… and need to become a natural part of the body-mind.
The “harmony and balance” of Zazen greatly derives from learning to accept the moment with all the body-and-mind, being “at one” with what is as we drop demands and resistance to changing circumstances, thus going with the flow and being just the very flowing itself, finding stillness even as and through the motion of life, dropping desires and demands for how the frustrated “me/myself/I”‘ self wants things to “should be” vs. “life just as we find life”. Yes, if you are having difficulty to sit still, and to drop demands and judgments of “how things should be”… it is because the self resists.
However, although there is no where to go in this practice, “nothing to attain,” we do get better at it with constant practice!
As I have been heard to say many times, there is no way to do Zazen “wrong“ — even when you are doing it completely “wrong.” That does not mean, though, that there is not a “right” and “wrong” way to “do” it!!
So, how does one know when one is doing it right!?! The following is the closest I can make to a litmus test for someone’s Practice:
Allowing things to just be the way they are, not judging, not resisting, being with the flow, allowing “happy” days to be happy and “sad” days to be sad, all while dropping all idea of “happy” and “sad,” whether really enjoying or really not enjoying… fully dropping away any and all thought of doing Zazen “right” or “wrong”… THIS IS DOING IT RIGHT. And when you are doing it right, it will usually feel like you are doing it right, for there is no resistance, and a great sense of balance.
Fighting things, wishing things were some other way that how they are, judging, resisting, going against the grain and the flow, wishing sad days were happy or happy days were happier… filled with a sense of self bumping up against all the other “selfs,” with a mind held by thoughts of doing Zazen right or doing it wrong… THIS IS DOING ZAZEN WRONG. And when you are doing it wrong, it will usually feel like you are doing it wrong, for there is resistance, and a sense of imbalance.
But as well, even at those times when Zazen feels wrong, when there is resistance or imbalance… it is still right, still Zazen, still just what it is. IT CANNOT BE WRONG. This last point is vital to understanding.
So, we have to work very diligently to sit every day, and strive with great effort, all to realize that there is nothing to attain… It is the way of effortless effort. We must aim carefully for the goalless goal!
Being the “Buddha” all along, and having not a thing about you that is in need of change… that does not mean you don’t have some work to do to realize truly that you are the Buddha without need of change. To realize that you are never, from the outset, in need of change is a TREMENDOUS CHANGE! There is absolutely nothing about you and the universe (not two!) to add or take away, and tasting that there is “nothing to add” is an important addition!
AND HOW DOES ONE REALIZE THAT NON-REALIZATION?
By Just Sitting to-the-marrow, radically dropping all goals, judgments, attempts to get somewhere or to achieve some realization. That gets you somewhere… a REVOLUTIONARY REALIZATION! A REVOLUTION IN LIFE!
CLICK HERE for today’s Sit-A-Long video.
Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 15 to 35 minutes is recommended.