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Lions Roar : May 2017
the sad predictions: relieved of despair. It just is, and in that is the only real ref- uge. Call it “the moment,” yet even that doesn’t clearly indicate its strength and spaciousness. Unspoken, unnamable. Without secur- ing ourselves in any way, we are intimate. Being at zero, if you will. Walking from zero. More than ever, in the weeks after 9/11 I came to appreciate the practice of zazen, the authenticity of its refuge among so many basically false “answers” to the anxiety of being. We’ve had so much that is inauthentic sold to us, and we sell false hope to one another. We may take temporary refuge in probability: it is statistically unlikely that any individual one of us will be tremendously harmed or killed on a given day. We take tempo- rary refuge in power: we have one of the best-funded, best-trained militaries in the world, and economic influence that is unparalleled in its capacity to put pres- sure where pressure is deemed needed. We take refuge in medicine: if we are exposed to a chemical or biological agent, it is likely that we will get treatment, and the survival rates are in our favor. These false refuges fail to reach the bot- tom of our anxiety, because they don’t suf- ficiently deal with the issue. The issue, in one sense, is that although we can do our best to secure an outcome, we can’t guar- antee it. We can’t know that we will live, or that those we love will live. We can’t know whether we will be well, or whether others will be well. We can medicate ourselves with probabilities, but we can’t cure the disease that way. We can’t know. The only real refuge, the only cure, is “the unspo- ken thing.” Being this moment. Just that. Zazen is the training to realize this, and Zen practice is the life it creates. It is the ability to take the step that is here. The bell rings, we bow and practice. Why go consciously, literally, to where death is? Why end each night of practice with the Evening Gatha? Let me respectfully remind you, Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken... ...awaken. Take heed. Do not squander your life. The clear and raw symbolic move- ment, the intrinsic liturgy of zazen, should really be appreciated. The journey of it, to the ground of being, is the visit to Ground Zero every moment. The bell rings to signal walking meditation; the boat comes into the dock and we unload at the pier. How will we step forward from ourselves? This is the loneliest and most important work of any of our lives, in that no one can really tell us anything but that it is possible. To do it is to live it, and to live it may require feeling things that we’d like to avoid. We can’t predict; we can only practice. ♦ A Zen journey through illness, faith and love with Reverend Robert Kaku Gunn “A powerful and inspiring video about the braiding of faith traditions, and great open heart of practice. " -- Roshi Joan Halifax, Upaya Zen Center When Bob Gunn found he had pancreatic cancer, he applied his experience as psychotherapist, Christian Minister, and Zen Priest, creating a unique path through the fear and uncertainty. Here is an intimate dialog between Bob and Zen Master Roshi Pat O’Hara that offers comfort, support, and indispensable guidance for all who now or will someday face the difficulties of old age, sickness and death. http://olddogdocumentaries.org/shop/one-body-one-heart/ A film by Old Dog Documentaries LION’S ROAR | MAY 2017 75