Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Meditation, Boring, Boring.

Maezumi Roshi said to me a long time ago; "Meditation is so boring, boring." I was a very new student at the time and I found meditation riveting and very exciting. All those dramas and who was star of the show? well me of course. Like Dogen Zenji said many centuries ago:

"To study Buddhism is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things. To be enlightened by all things is to be free from attachment to the body and mind of one's self and of others."

One thing we can bring as westerners to the practice of zen is the removal of obstacles deep in the self. When we are no longer attached to enlightenment or the peace of zazen we are just our ordinary selves.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Butts off the cushion!

Did anyone see the BBC Newsnight of 14/10/09? Scientists say we have only got 6 years left. We have all seen houses lit up like lanterns and some of us have seen cities from the air at night (Vegas stretched out like a diamond spiders web in the darkness of the desert.) Six years? SIX YEARS! Switching off lights and plugs is the easy bit - and we will soon get used to lots of changes in our lives. So we have to awaken in record time. Genpo Roshi gives live talks on Big Mind TV and Bernie Glassman Roshi is also a really useful helper in the work of awakened activism. Genpo Roshis' Big Heart, Big Mind offers a speed track to enlightenment. Bernie Glassman Roshi shows us how to put it in action in the world. After all, he's the guy who holds retreats at Auschwitz. It's no good talking about embracing the universe if we don't knuckle down and do what we can to care for it. By the way, the hand position in Zen meditation is called the cosmic mudra. For those whose deepest desire is to save the world, here's a great opportunity. So butts off the cushions - we have got work to do!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Don't Waste Your Time

Daido Roshi will soon be passing from this world, please pray for him. He is one of Maezumi Roshis' successors and is abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery in upstate New York. I remember him as a big man with a huge heart who used all his talents to the full for the dharma.

Life and death really are of extreme importance, as we hear at the end of the day's meditation:
"Let me respectfully remind you, life and death are of extreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Let us awaken, awaken, take heed. Do not squander your life."

Daido did not squander his life, in fact he used it in the best way possible.

Squandering is the grit in the shoe. (See yesterdays blog) So here's an ill-remembered poem from long ago. I have given it a new name:

"What's it all about Alfie?"

As when a child I laughed and wept,
Time crept.
Later as I grew,
Time flew.
Soon, as I go wondering on
Time will be gone.
Will God have saved
My soul by then?

Well, it's no good leaving it all up to God. It's up to us to go sit. Today in Lancashire, UK it's bucketing down and the sky is grey and heavy. Perfect sitting weather...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Just Go and Sit!

It's not so much that it's difficult to practice (sitting meditation, or meditation in action) when alone or tired, it's more a question of self motivation. I have to wait until living without practice becomes unbearable. My teacher, Genpo Roshi, used to say "It is like having a piece of grit in your shoe. Eventually you have to do something about it." So the question becomes: what do you do? That's where the motivation for practice comes in.

Is it seeing the Buddha nature or divine nature of everything and everyone, including yourself? Is it seeing your own big mind or your own big heart or experiencing christ consciousness? Or is it manifested by just being a decent person getting on with their job, or enjoying a good time? Whatever your practice means to you, I think Henry James was onto a good thing when he said "Only relate".

I find that just sitting brings my life into full bloom, and I can really appreciate it.

You could make a bit of a timetable or let people know that you are going to sit on a particular day because human beings like to be with other people. It's much easier to meditate with the support of others. It's hard to be a hermit.

Easiest of all is to just go and sit!