Saturday, August 13, 2011

Further Reflections

The comments section has been the most interesting part of the blog this week. I have been chewing on Daigan's comment, and the ones that followed, and trying to come up with a response beyond what I wrote in the original post. Of course Lou was right, he usually was. I had my own experience of this living here in 2005. I would much rather have been still living at Tassajara, but I had been sent back to the city to sort out important aspects of my life, which I had no inclination to do, and which didn't really get resolved for another two or three years. I was fukaten, the number two person in the kitchen, and devoted all my energies to doing that job as well as I could without taking my own displeasure out on the crew, and to sitting every day. I had a lot of opinions about the standard of practice at City Center compared with Tassajara, and the only two things that worked for me around that were trying to stay focused on my own practice, and looking to those people around me whose practice did inspire me - Lou being one of those, naturally. At that time I was wanting to become a priest, and heard more than once a version of the line Chris mentioned, "If you want to become a priest, act like a priest".
The comments on Thursday's post were humbling; Stephen's words and stories illustrate exactly why we love the Coadys, and I was deeply moved by the anonymous comment. To respond to that I can only quote the words from the last part of the Full Moon Ceremony, which we did again this morning; I have mentioned the first part before, but the rest of the paragraph illuminates the point: "To expound the dharma with this body is foremost. The virtue returns to the ocean of reality. It is unfathomable, we just accept it with respect and gratitude".


The Happy Existentialist said...

Sometimes this seems perfectly obvious and sometimes it seems completely incorrect: "To be a buddha, act like a buddha."

It's reinforced by the notion that each moment we are able to give full intention to our actions and so act as a buddha. Combined here is also the idea that the way does not come after long years of practice, but practice for long years is being on the way.

It is shaken not only by the repeated failures to act as a buddha but also by the doubts that creep in whenever I think "What would a buddha do here?" Just asking that question seems both necessary to acting that way and completely disruptive to being that way.

As the great sage Philip J. Fry of Futurama put it, "I'll be whatever I wanna do."


Anonymous said...

I want to thank you, Shundo, for sharing with us your thoughts on the myriad things, about practice, about life, through this blog. It means a lot to me, a reader, and hope that it is meaningful for you as well.
I have been doing some reflections... I admit I don't know David personally, and do not live in the Zen center.

Sometimes I remind myself....
"Suicide is the result of taking yourself too seriously."** This applies to anyone who have been close to the edge, I myself included. Certainly there are times when the pain (from whatever cause) seem unbearable, and you question yourself how could you go on for the next second, taking the next breath. These are times that it is crucial to reach out to others.
But I think it's important to recognize that zen practice and/or people who are drawn to zen practice tend to think deeper and are more aware of things than others. This seriousness and discipline that we bring to our practice is important. Our high expectations for ourselves is what sustains us in practice. Perhaps, sometimes it is through deep personal suffering and pain or witness of suffering that drawn us to study Buddhism.

May we remind ourselves to treat ourselves kindly and gently, with the same compassion just as we would treat others. Here, here...have a cookie.

"Just to be alive is enough.
Each of you is perfect the way you are…"
~ Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

**Not sure from which zen master, but from this website :

Anonymous said...

regarding previous post. I did not mean to be insensitive for some people who are actively grieving, and recognize that many might be going through difficult time. I apologize I came off sounding that way.

Shundo said...

Thank you both for these comments - Anonymous, I did not read anything jarring in what you initially wrote. It is, though, as we have been discovering anew in the past few days, still a very sensitive time for many people here.
Stephen, hopefully in time you won't need to ask yourself the question; my feeling is that it would get in the way much of the time.