Friday, April 2, 2010

Study Hall

I usually try to get some studying in after breakfast. At Tassajara there is an hour of study scheduled every day at this time, and I have found a nice habit to keep up - the mind is not necessarily distracted too much by the day ahead, and is still feeling the benefits of the morning sitting, and I often find myself rested and alert at the same time.
Most recently I have been reading a book by the late Chan master Sheng Yen, Song of Mind, which is a series of talks given on retreat. Had I had a little more time and energy, I would have quoted from the book before sesshin, as a lot of this book has to do with how to approach a sesshin. He can be quite fierce with his students, but also refreshingly funny.
Here is one of my favourite quotes:

'When some older people find out I became a monk at thirteen, they become discouraged, thinking they won't have time to reach enlightenment. Nonsense. Remember, enlightenment can come in an instant. Is there a queue at the gate of Chan? Are you only allowed in one at a time? You don't have to take a number and wait in line to achieve buddhahood. Do buddhas have seniority over others? Do buddhas compare notes on when and how they got enlightened? Funny as it sounds, some people go through similar mental maneuvers. "That person over there sits like a rock; she must nearly be enlightened. I've been on twenty retreats, so I must be closer to enlightenment than that guy, who is on his first one." Do these thoughts sound familiar?
It is never too late to start practicing. If you missed the first bus to buddhahood, the next one will be by soon. The important thing is to get on the bus and stay on.'

1 comment:

Djinn said...

Wonderful - I love the idea of staying on the bus. "Plenty of room on top," as a friend told me last week on the way into the Buddha Hall for nenju...