On the way out of the zendo tonight, I was chatting with a Dharma compatriot, and this little exchange helps me dovetail back into Brad, me, chinchillas, etc.

We were discussing people's preconceptions of what happens when you sit for long periods--as in, sesshin long. Now, having never sat formal sesshin with my current sangha, I didn't speak from there. However, having sat extensively in my 20's, I spoke from there with some confidence. We got around to the differences between conception and preconception. Should you "feel different" when you are really down in it? Should you feel "everything fall away", "a great opening", a glorious opening of this or that chakra, and blah, and blah, and...

sa+0ri pr0n, indeed.

How many people are sitting there waiting for "something to happen"? How many people are bringing in all the stuff they read in Tricycle, Shambala Sun, Crooked Cucumber, or something by Ginsberg or Watts? How many are there to "get enlightened"?

Warner, in the aforementioned SG article, covers this really well. And it was this very point that my world-wide web o' Dharma buddies was pinging me on. What did I think about what he said? Essentially, what was my opinion on his opinion? And in addition to that, people wanted to know what's happened with me. What has made me take up this ridiculous Sisyphean task? What was my moment of clarity, my peek into the Universe, the whisper in my ear of the ineffable that I suddenly made out and understood?

The answer to the first question is this:

I give a toss, frankly. Warner says what he says. Being up front, I'll say that the vast majority of it resonated with me. I'll add that as far as Brad's writing goes, it normally does. If it didn't, though, I think I'd still be reading him. Why? Remember a blog or so ago I was talking about the importance of different Dharma voices? I really believe that. I believe that all Dharma voices should be heard. I believe that because a) I'm a hand-wringing Lefty-Liberal who values freedom of speech about as highly as I do my freedom to do just about any other damn thing I can think of, but moreover, I believe b) ALL VOICES ARE DHARMA VOICES. Without exception. End of line.

And, finally, as to my experience, my sa+0ri pr0n story?

I don't have one. All I can claim is a pile of ashes, a burn on my arm, a desperation to connect, and a will to try. The only thing that comes close in words as an example is this:

About a year after I took up Zen "in earnest" after taking a year off of it to figure a few things out, my teacher Hogen sort-of cornered me on something. We were working on getting my intellect out of the way (and still are, what a mess!) "I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere" I moaned. "Then why do you still sit?" he asked. He gave me a look that all of his students refer to as "that Hogen look". I now know that it's a look of true inquisitiveness. I couldn't get away from it. I was silent for a long time, so long that the concern of my taking up other people's sanzen time crept into my mind, but I successfully pushed it out, more than anything because I suddenly understood that I wanted an answer to that as well.

"I sit because after analyzing the entirety of my practice experience up until now, the one constant, the only constant that I can see in the big picture view is that no matter what state or condition I'm in--mental, emotional, physical or spiritual--before I sit, when I get up, I feel better. Everything has improved. Everything. Most likely not a ton, but consistently, I feel better having sat zazen than were I not to have, and that alone is reason enough to come back."

I now know that, in point of fact, very little has quantitatively improved. My blood pressure gets better. That's the majority of it. No problem gets resolved. No great thunderclap of enlightenment happens. No swirly colors erupt from my third eye or any other orifice, for that matter (thank gawd). Very little "improves", except one very tiny thing:

Me.

That alone is reason enough to come back...

3 comments:

Laura said...

I love the "emptiness" following Hogen-san's question. Great wrap-up!

Patrick said...

Blog comment FAIL.

After a half hour of composing a genius post of my own, Blogger decided to erase it.

Guess I'll cover it next time I see you.

Liked your post.

Zen Trixter said...

That, Bansho-san, is exactly why I compose in Word Pad first. O! The lost bytes of wisdom over the years... ;)