330. Before a step is taken the goal is reached? Practice is enlightenment and enlightenment is practice? Nirvana is right here before your eyes? This very place is the lotus land? This very body the Buddha? Many of us may have trouble accepting that the job, as it were, is done. Perhaps the difficulty has to do with the focus of our attention. If we are preoccupied with our self, then, naturally we will be overwhelmed with a sense of imperfection and so miss our inherent Buddhahood. But if we forget the self our Buddha nature is confirmed by the ten thousand things. No need to take refuge in a spirituality of imperfection.
Saturday, 25 May 2019
329. The assembled monks look to the Buddha for a sermon. But he just holds up a flower. They are dumbfounded. Only Mahakashyapa smiles broadly and the Buddha acknowledges his smile. The practice of shikantaza is like this. For here practice is enlightenment and enlightenment is practice.
Thursday, 23 May 2019
328. Following the breath and body awareness are basic practices at Bodhi Zendo. They are similar to but not exactly the same as shikantaza which entails the further step of faith in one's inherent Buddha Nature. Breath and body awareness can open the practitioner to the realization that 'practice is enlightenment and enlightenment is practice', as Master Dogen would say. The practice of shikantaza, then, is the manifestation of one's True Self, one's Buddha Nature. In this 'just sitting' one can rest in the realization that 'the Nondual is one with the trusting mind'.
327. Following the breath in zazen you may be surprised to notice that your familiar pain, from the tension in your legs, has disappeared. Now you are aware of your whole body engaged in the act of sitting. But in the absence of the struggle with pain that has always accompanied your zazen you are suddenly at a loss. Your body is at rest and there is just you sitting quietly in this place and starting to wonder if there isn't something else. No unexpected insights, no world shattering experiences. It's just this.
Wednesday, 22 May 2019
326. The practice of following the breath requires one to slow down and become attentive to the different phases of the breathing process. Notice how the in-breath starts of its own accord. Follow its passage from the tip of the nose down into the hara. Take careful note of how the in-breath comes to an end. Pay close attention to the transition from the in-breath's ending to the out-breath's beginning. Feel the outward movement and how it too comes to an end. Feel how the cycle begins again and experience the sheer wonder of it.
Thursday, 16 May 2019
325. Sitting alone, far from the hustle and bustle of politics, just following my breath, attending to body awareness, and all the while one's country is at a crossroad, and the planet itself is in crisis. The sense of helplessness can be overwhelming. Can taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha save one from despair?
Monday, 13 May 2019
324. When on the road bear in mind these words of Zen Master AMA Samy: 'Your self is an openness to the All, which can be realized only in the journeying. The journey begins with the first step Here and Now. And every step is the first step. Where do you begin?'
Friday, 10 May 2019
323. On the road (yet again). Trains, buses, walking. Rubbing shoulders with strangers. So many faces, so many bodies, so many stories. What's so special about yours? And where are you going? And why? The uncertainties of travel. The boredom of waiting. The happy surprises.
Monday, 6 May 2019
322. Midmorning walk early May. Autumn in the antipodes. Trees changing colour, losing leaves. Underfoot a colorful, crunchy carpet. Poetic images flood the mind. A question from Hopkins: 'Margaret, are you grieving / Over Goldengrove unleaving?' Can't recall any more lines but these persist. Ah, yes! Anicca!
Saturday, 4 May 2019
321. Formal sitting meditation, or zazen, is central to the Way of Zen. In this practice we learn to let go of our attachments and particular expectations and to surrender our self to the great Mystery that surrounds, undergirds, permeates, and embraces all of our living. Becoming intimate with this Mystery in the realization that Emptiness is Fullness we can enter with a trusting mind into the market place of our everyday life.
Friday, 3 May 2019
320. Sit in the dark. Wait for the break of day. Marvel at the sky sometime before sunrise. Then see how it grows pale at the approach of the sun. The neighborhood is silent save for a distant murmur of traffic on the by-pass. Suddenly the shrill call of a bird cuts through the early morning air. Unfold your legs, stand up, bow.
Wednesday, 1 May 2019
319. What, if anything, does following a spiritual path have to do with politics? If one lives in a country where voting in elections is compulsory for all citizens aged 18 years and over, the question is inescapable. For even when there is a strict separation between church and state, the view that religion is a private matter is surely unsustainable. Take the case of the Zen practitioner who vows each day to abandon greed, hatred and ignorance. This vow must have an impact on the way he or she approaches the ballot box.