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Lions Roar : January 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2009 80 arises in our mind. In fact, we are encouraged not to even grasp whatever arises in our mind. What we usually call good or bad we simply acknowledge as thinking, without all the usual drama that goes along with right and wrong. We are instructed to let the thoughts come and go as if touching a bubble with a feather. This straightforward discipline prepares us to stop struggling and discover a fresh, unbiased state of being. The experience of certain feelings can seem particularly pregnant with desire for reso- lution: loneliness, boredom, anxiety. Unless we can relax with these feelings, it’s very hard to stay in the middle when we experience them. We want victory or defeat, praise or blame. For example, if somebody abandons us, we don’t want to be with that raw discomfort. Instead, we conjure up a familiar identity of ourselves as a hapless victim. Or maybe we avoid the rawness by acting out and righteously telling the person how messed up he or she is. We automatically want to cover over the pain in one way or another, identifying with victory or victimhood. Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy. Heartache is not some- thing we choose to invite in. It’s restless and pregnant and hot with the desire to escape and find something or someone to keep us com- pany. When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a nonthreat- ening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down. Cool loneliness allows us to look honestly and without aggres- sion at our own minds. We can gradually drop our ideals of who we think we ought to be, or who we think we want to be, or who we think other people think we want to be or ought to be. We give it up and just look directly with compassion and humor at who we are. Then loneliness is no threat and heartache, no punishment. Cool loneliness doesn’t provide any resolution or give us ground under our feet. It challenges us to step into a world of no reference point without polarizing or solidifying. This is called the middle way, or the sacred path of the warrior. When you wake up in the morning and out of nowhere comes the heartache of alienation and loneliness, could you use that as a golden opportunity? Rather than persecuting yourself or feeling that something terribly wrong is happening, right there in the mo- ment of sadness and longing, could you relax and touch the limit- less space of the human heart? The next time you get a chance, experiment with this. — JULY, 2000 The Perfect Wo r k ing of No-Self by Taizan Maezumi Roshi IN OUR ZEN TRADITION, we emphasize the awakened insight by which we see inside and outside together as one. That’s what the Buddha awakened to. And, fortunately, we have all kinds of upaya, or skillful means, through which we can practice and really see what this dharma is. How is practice to be appreciated? I want you to pay close at- tention to what is truly the dharma. How do you think about it, and what do you think is the right way to practice? Then practice and consider further about the dharma. Are you really practicing well, relative to what you have thought about and what you have heard or read? According to what you perceive, examine the dharma and refresh and encourage yourself, thereby making your practice better. What can we expect by practicing the dharma? In Zen, we have a saying, “Don’t expect anything.” What does this mean? We say, “No gain and no expectation about enlightenment as such. Sit in an upright, settled body position—just sit! This is the way of the ancestors.” When we say ancestors, we are not restricting practice to certain types of persons. Anyone—male or female, of any class or race and so on—who accomplishes the Way well is called an an- cestor. So the quality of our practice is very important. What kind of practice do we do and what kind of awareness do we have? What kind of mindfulness? Samadhi? What effects do we experience? Even not expecting anything, the practice has certain effects. One of the most important dharma teachings is cause and effect. We can say that Buddha’s teaching is all about causation. It’s not just one cause or a few causes—everything else is a cause for something else. Everything is connected in one way or another. There are di- rect causes and indirect causes, all working together. We say, “Cause and effect are not two separate things; cause and effect are one.” We usually don’t have this kind of understanding about practice or the teachings. How do you understand causation? Some people think that when they do a bad thing, their action is not actually a bad thing until the time that they’re caught—maybe tomorrow or a year later or when they are picked up by police. Regarding this, Yasutani Roshi would repeatedly say, “When you steal something, at that very moment, you become a thief.” Is it true? How to live is a primary question for all of us. It’s not just human-made rules and regulations that are maintained under certain circumstances or environments, or by societies, groups or countries. Of course, these rules are important. But there is PHOTOBYMARZENAREY Taizan Maezumi Roshi