Looking for the Self - p61
‘To study the Way is to study the self’.
How many times have we heard or read this quote? Isn’t this one of the main reasons why we start on our Way? ....
Aoyama describes how the Buddha teaches us to rely only on ourselves and the Dharma to provide our answers….to be our own refuge. This is qualified by the statement that;
‘A well-regulated self becomes a refuge’…not the world … money, ambition, survival, family life. Why?
When we take refuge in the world, we take refuge in conditions that we believe act on us, determining our happiness, our success. So when things go wrong we immediately blame our losses on external things, we moan and complain.
When we take refuge in the Dharma we are taught that our conventional sense of self is delusional and that we need to practice to see this for ourselves. As we realise this through practice we become more self-regulated. We are not thrown off kilter by accidents and dramas as much. We develop a way of dealing with the world which blends…not to react too much one way or the other. That’s the plan anyway!
I guess I realised how much this practice has helped me become more self-regulated when faced with repeated stressful conditions that teachers experienced every few years or so…inspections. My usual reaction was to panic and over-compensate, to over-plan lessons, to over-perform during observations and as a result over-fail!
In the past few inspections I have not over-reacted at all, but I have managed these inspections completely differently. For starters my life and career are not dependent on them! It’s amazing how such thoughts became a premise before I started zazen practice. How did I really think this was so? How many other hidden premises (delusions) do we carry without realising and letting go of them?
Now during inspections my work continues to be dependent on the needs I judge are a priority for the class I teach and the subject to be taught. It is an approach that blends with all external conditions (not just my perception of external conditions), not reacting against or over-compensating for them. The results are right too!
How we can look back in hindsight and see the right way!!
Q: May I ask you to share any experiences which show how you have become more
Looking for a Good Teacher – p62
Well so much has been written here at Treeleaf about teachers, good and bad …just enter ‘teacher’ in the Treeleaf search engine!
I am not sure that teachers are supposed to make Buddha statues out of us! ....But rather they ‘know’ the Way so can ‘guide’ and ‘point us on our way’ accordingly.
Teachers can be any event that challenges our idea of our small ‘self’, but a good teacher will help us open the door to our universal ‘self’.
How can we tell a good teacher? Well we test everything that is taught; as Shakyamuni advised us…and as Aoyama says ‘they tell us things we do not like to hear’!
Q: Do you have a moment when you were told a truth you didn’t like to hear? Who or what
was your teacher?