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Lions Roar : July 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2008 67 NOTE THAT THE BASIS of the Buddha’s forbearance, and the basis of ours as well, is the body. When things get tough in our meditation practice, we hold on with the body, paying close attention to the body in sitting, walking, breathing, and so on. Staying with the body brings calm, and gives us a con- crete, definite way to be with our experience without running away. In the Abhidharma, the Buddhist psychological teachings, the body is called “the soil in which understanding grows.” This is of course true: the body calms and grounds the mind and heart, and a stable mind and heart produce wisdom and happiness. And yet (another paradox!) the trustworthy body is also, like the heart, radically vulnerable. In fact, this is its very nature. The Abhidharma’s definition of the body is “that which can be molested.” In other words, the na- ture of the body—and of everything that is material, physical—is that it can be broken, squashed, scraped, scratched, burned, and worn away. Thoughts and feelings may be pleasant or unpleasant, but they cannot be broken, squashed, burned, or worn away. How is it that this fundamentally breakable body is the basis of truth, enlightenment, redemption? WHEN I LOOK IN THE MIRROR I see a familiar image I call myself. Once the image of an infant, then a child, then an adolescent, it now reflects a grown adult. Is it accurate to think of this series of images as one evolving person? ZOKETSU NORMAN FISCHER is a Soto Zen roshi in the lineage of Suzuki Roshi. He is an author, poet, and founder of the Everyday Zen Foundation. This essay is excerpted from his new book, Sailing Home: Using Homer’s Odyssey to Navigate Life’s Perils and Pitfalls, published in June by Free Press. Coming Home to the Body The practice of meditation is a journey of return to who we really are, says Zen teacher N ORMAN FISCHER. We come home to the body, so vulnerable, ever-changing, and magnificent, because it is the vehicle of enlightenment. PAINTINGS BY LEYA EVELYN JULY 66-71.indd 67 JULY 66-71.indd 67 4/28/08 10:19:07 AM 4/28/08 10:19:07 AM