SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Airplane Zazen

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Some bouncy turbulence on our Pacific flight, and I sit a little pacific Zazen. Dogen and many teachers of centuries past crossed to China in wooden boats, on voyages taking days or weeks, meeting storms and constant dangers. I can only imagine their state, sitting Zazen in a leaky vessel as waves pounded the timbers. Now anyone can fly the same trip in hours, and in comfort. Statistics tell us how safe it all is.

Yet, part of me is cringing and terrified in the wind tossed plane, my fingers clenching the armrests.

I think it is the lack of control that I fear, for despite the best planning and will power, I cannot tell the wind and clouds to clear away. Nor am I flying the plane. We are thrown around like leaves in an autumn breeze. But that fear is also the very heart of our practice ...

I have learned that, when the plan goes up, I just go up. No resistance. When it goes left and right, I go left and right ... no resistance. Despite the terror and lack of control. I just roll with the rolls. No resistance.

And there is another way too that airplane life might represent our lives in this universe. Because, if we picture this universe as something like a big, mysterious plane on a flight, we can see ourselves as its passengers sitting in our numbered seats. There are other passengers on board beside ourselves, each sitting in a given place.We are just born on this strange plane, coming from somewhere and going to somewhere we know not. Perhaps there is no destination, perhaps there is no pilot at the controls. We cannot know.

The Buddhist teachings, however, tell us that we are not just passengers on the plane. We are (when viewed as a higher plane ... ha ha ) in fact the plane itself ... and the plane is us, as are all the other passengers ... and we are them too. We are so much a part of it and them, and it and them are a part of us, that we should drop all words 'it them and us' - for but a single vessel exists. It is true, as much as the wings are the plane, and the doors and windows, and the rudder and all the rest, your are too. You are each light and wire and wheel and motor ... not just part of the craft but the craft. What is more, just as there would be no passenger planes without passengers, there would be no air passengers without an air vessel for passage ... our existence arises through a dependent origination, one needing the other in order to fly.

Being just the plane (my Big Self), thus I (little self) go where it goes. Up down right left, I just go.

I do not know the destination if any (I will trust it to go where it goes), I do not know exactly how the plane and I came to be (who handed me my ticket), I do not even know if there is anyone at the stick ... I just know this:

Up down right left ... bounce bounce bounce.

Pacific Zazen - Click on picture to 'play'
(Sitting Time: About 30 minutes)
(Leon provided the bell later, as it was packed away in the suitcases. The video is also quite turbulent, and tends to jump a bit, but that does not change the length)

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