Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Night Zazen

Unusual for a City Center practice period, we are having night zazen for the next few weeks.  You can count the participants on one hand most nights, which begs the question, Why bother?

Fortunately, a certain bodhi tree in Magada didn't ask that same question when a solitary man in his mid-thirties decided one night to sit under the tree and not get up until he found the solution to suffering.  Eventually, the answer did show up, aided by the morning star.

A few days ago, I watched a conference speaker, backed by the requisite (if somewhat tangential) PowerPoint slides, explain that he was engaged in research to help speed up the enlightenment process so that more people could be compassionate quicker.  I wanted to yell at his image on my laptop screen.  You can't speed that up! (I shouted mutely.)  There's no bodhisattva fast-track.  As the Buddha once remarked to an assailant who was trying in vain to reach him, "You can't catch me because I have stopped.  Now you stop."  The assailant did -- and woke up to the truth of his own suffering on the spot.

So we sit, sometimes at odd hours, in homage not so much to the man under the tree, but to the power of stopping that he so ably demonstrated.  Patience and tranquility, the necessary prerequisites to compassion, are found at the stop sign.  We don't need to go get them; they're right here if we just stop and look ... inside.

1 comment:

Sophia said...

My dearest Mother...imparted a similar teaching when I was just learning to walk independently...unaided by her guiding hands.

I clearly remember her earnestly looking down into my face, as we were about to step off for the first time into the unfamiliar and unknown landscape of our neighborhood. Just before we stepped together off the edge of the sidewalk, she put her finger to her lips as a sign for me to interrupt my incessant stream of questions to her about this exciting new landscape...and then there it was...the directive that I will never forget.


Looking up into her face I could see such a deep and earnest concern about my safety as we set out into the unknown, and it deeply imprinted into my psyche, that stopping, looking and listening was integral to my making my way in the world. That I could better know...and therefore be in right relationship to what what was before me, if I would pause and stop and look and listen.

Dearest Ino, dearest Mom...Thanks so much for this lesson in the Dharma.

Deep Bows to You Both,