p.141 -- Throw Everything Away
This passage is so rich with points. I will try my best to discuss how they impacted me.
I found it interesting to note on p.41 when Aoyama Roshi states "before women could hold that post" in reference to the abbassy at Aichi Semmon Niso-do. Women's rights and feminism were some of my favorite topics in philosophy and still are. In any case, I guess sexism isn't absent from any of the religions.
In any case, the meat of this passage starts with the question "What about your zazen?" Is your zazen done to attain something? I know I started this practice to get something. I still catch myself looking for peace of mind on occasion. Hah! who am I kidding? Just today, I was trying to stop the thinking instead of just letting go of the thoughts. I find that challenging, and that's the subtlety of the practice. Just letting go. Not adding, not taking away. I think that grasping is actually a good thing in that it brings us to the practice in the first place. If we didn't feel something amiss, why would we do anything about it?
Grasping is not the right word. Wanting to change things for the better is good. But let's just figure out a plan and work on it, and adjust. Most of the time, as human beings, we (or I) get caught up and grasp onto things.
But when we can "throw away" any of the grasping or attaining mind, then we enter the Way. I don't think it's healthy to rid ourselves of desire; desire is what makes us human. I know Jundo and Taigu have both addressed this. But to desire without being caught by it. So there's a distinctive difference between a healthy balanced desire and DESIRE (The grasping, spoiled brat, I will pout and sulk and completely destroy my life if I don't get what I want).
It's like when studying the precepts. Look, we're going to get angry. I don't practice to become a robot some day. Among other things, I practice to experience things as they are, which means anger as anger, etc. My zazen is still clouded with some goal of attaining something. But I can release the hold on that and just sit too. I feel that change in my practice.
Seeing things, life is practice is our practice. When you practice you pay attention to what's going on to make adjustments. Doctors have a medical practice because medicine is an art and a science, good doctors always learn. I'm a software developer. I treat my work as practice. I'm always trying to test out new approaches, learn new things. Knowledge is power in my field, so not being flexible and willing to learn is akin to killing one's career (well I mean if you want the exciting work you have to keep learning).
I treat eating at times as a mundane activity, or if I get too caught up in work I'll skip meals. But that is not leaping off the 100 foot pole. There is a time for eveyrthing, and eating is one of the most important things we can do to stay alive. I love the meal gatha. It reminds me of the sacredness of life. I'm boggled by all of the effort that goes into a single piece of fruit. I mean the evolutino of nature to produce fruit let alone the means of actually transporting it to my local grocery store. It's insane.
Life and Death as they are is Nirvana:
I thought this was really powerful. When posing this question to Master Obora about the meaning of life and death, he returned with a question "What does it mean to say that Life and Death as they are is Nirvana"? I love it. I love that he asked her to come back in 36 years. That's what this practice is. It's the opposite of immediate gratification. We are not independent selves, but at the same time we have to be self-reliant. To paraphrase Shohei from his recent talk , our practice is our responsibility.
It's like the master said, hey I'm not doing the work for you. Here's a question in return, chew on that. And that's why we practice. There are no easy answers. Even though I want an easy answer to be a"master", that's all bs. Who the hell knows the answers anyway? What answers?
p.148 Zazen That Amounts to Nothing
Have you ever wanted to go to a Turkish bath house? Yes, this is a joke, but I thought about it when she almost went into the bath house. Perhaps this is inappropriate, but I have a twisted sense of humor. hahahah
If there is a task to do, and you resist doing it, you must tell yourself that you Love It you Love It. Ugh... I'm telling you this actually may be useful.. probably much better than miring in the resistance of doing something you have to do anyway. I typically do that; but when I let go, so does my lack of enjoyment.
Are there any tasks you find unbearable that you could see this helping with? Do you already employ this technique? If not, let's try it out this week and report back
Have you ever gotten annoyed when you hear noises during zazen? I used to, but that was just inner resistance. Do any of you sit while there is noise going on around you? Do you feel angry about it?
"The more we struggle, the muddier the water becomes." Isn't that the truth?
I found it very touching that Aoyama, a zen priest who dedicated her entire life to the Way, finally understood the meaning of the rituals. That's why I completely agree with Taigu and Jundo about being careful to throw away rituals. I mean if it took years and years for her to understand their significance, and she was a dedicated nun, how can we just assume if they are or are not useful?
"Zazen is a world beyond losses and gains--even beyond seeking enlightenment. One simply sits, casting off the whole of one's beggarly disposition."