Sit-a-Long with Jundo: Not Always So

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In one of his talks published under the title "Not Always So," Shunryu Suzuki Roshi said, "The secret of Soto Zen is just in the words 'Not always so.' ...This is the secret of the teaching. It may be so, but it is not always so."

Yet if one visits a Zen monastery, one will often be taught to behave in ways that might seem like they should always be "so":  "Bow this way, wear your robes that way, walk precisely this way." Zen can often be surprisingly rigid and formal, for a practice thought to be about "freedom from all restrictions" and "spontaneity." Its teachings, often described as "beyond words and letters" and expressed in mysterious koans, can also often be very definite, clear and precise.

But the funny thing is that the form and rigidity can be a gateway to teachings of true freedom... being free from restrictions even amid seeming restrictions. [Click through for more and to hear more and "sit-a-long" with today's video.]

Its often very clear and unchanging philosophy offers freedom and "unboundedness" in a life that is constantly changing, and "not always so." Suzuki Roshi said, "Real freedom is to not feel limited when wearing the Zen robe, this troublesome formal robe. Similarly in our busy life, we should wear this [life] without being bothered by it... without being caught by it. Without going anywhere, without escaping it, we can find composure in this busy life."

Today's Sit-A-Long video follows. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.

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