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Lions Roar : July 2015
Talk Talk Talk Zen monk SHOZAN JACK HAUBNER finds his way in the wildness of the city. THE ONLY PLACE a spiritual practice belongs is out in the real world. No Zen master ever got enlightened on the cush- ion. She is always off the monastery grounds completely when she hears the crow cawing through the sky or a stone striking bamboo and she suddenly realizes: Holy Moses! That’s what it’s all about! Or maybe I’m just telling myself this, because after a decade at a mountaintop monastery I’ve moved to a temple in the city. It’s rough down here. How do people do it? I used to meditate with finches chirping in both ears. Now I’ve got police sirens in one ear and an ice cream truck playing Christmas tunes in the other—in the middle of July! All that carefully cultivated monastic silence feels natural out in nature. It feels forced in the city. So I’ve had to adapt. Mainly, I’ve had to learn how to talk and listen to people again, and I’ve had to relearn that any time you form a hard opinion of someone—including yourself—you’ve essentially killed them in your heart. The most interesting discovery I’ve made in the city is something called council practice, which is making its way into a lot of spiritual communities these days. In council practice community members sit in a circle and observe a few rules to facilitate authentic connection, most importantly: listen deeply when others are speaking, and speak spontaneously and from the heart when you have the talking piece. Yes, there’s a talking piece. No, I do not wear a quartz necklace over a wolf shirt to these circles. This is not what I got into Zen for: to hear people talk about their feelings, or to force people to listen to mine. But you know what? I need it. Something went dark and mean in me all those years up on the mountain—a little bit of the mountain got into me. My practice now is about learning how to skillfully release this wildness into the city around me without hurting others or making a fool of myself. But I need new tools. After all those years of negating it at high altitudes, I need to learn how to manifest a human self again. I need to learn how to listen deeply and speak from the heart, so that when I hear police sirens or the tinkling sum- mer strains of “Jingle Bells,” I can turn to my fellow cityzens and shout: Holy Moses! This is what it’s all about! SHOZAN JACK HAUBNER (not his real name) is a monk and the author of Zen Confidential. SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2015 70