Friday, March 17, 2006

Worrying about Good and Bad

In his instructions for sitting still in lotus, Zen Master Dogen wrote: ZEN-AKU OMAWAZU, ZE-HI KANSURU KOTO NAKARE, Don't think about good and bad; Don't care about right and wrong.

How easy is this instruction to follow? For me, it is not easy to follow at all.

Two or three years ago I travelled down to London for an Alexander lesson with FM Alexander's niece, Marjory Barlow, then in her late 80s. We had got our dates mixed up, and she was already working with a small group. So there was nothing for it but for me to head back to the train station and home. One of the group from inside Marjory's teaching room must have told her not to worry about it, because I heard her say, in her ringing and feisty voice, "Ooh, but I DO worry." This in itself made the whole excursion worthwhile. I can still hear those words now; the distillation of all of Marjory's teaching. No pretense. Just being clear what is going on within.

The tendency to worry is a very strong one in me. It was a habit I had even as a child. So how to liberate myself from this habit? Drinking large quantities of beer was a strategy I explored often in my teens and early 20s, but the relief it provided was only temporary. Another strategy, equally ineffectual, has been to pretend not to be worried about good and bad. Sometimes I have acted as if trying to force myself to appear not to be worried about good and bad, by indulging in outlandish behaviour. But such efforts are merely an unconscious reaction to the unconscious habit of worrying about good and bad.

In moments of relative clarity, I see that in order to liberate myself from the habit of worrying about good and bad, I have to accept the habit, observe it, get to know it, make a friend of it, watch the chain of deluded reactions it sets off in me.

Master Dogen is telling me, through the ages: Don't worry about good and bad. And my reply to Master Dogen is: Ah, but I DO worry about good and bad.

11 Comments:

Blogger 123Twist said...

Why did you delete my comment? Gudo now says you are no longer his Dharma Heir. What was done has been undone.

Friday, March 17, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

If you want to have a discussion, show your profile. Otherwise, sod off my blog.

Friday, March 17, 2006  
Blogger Michael said...

Hi Mike,

Worry has been my lifelong companion, too, though I'm trying to increase the distance between us. In some ways, paradoxically, my illness helps in this.

Friday, March 17, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

Hi Mike, I know what you are saying.. On some days things seem obvious, then on other days I seem to forget it all. Everything we consider to be good or bad is always neither. Things are not really like that. Worrying about whether something is good or bad is pointless yet we keep on doing it. We have the tendency to cling to one point of view or the other completely forgetting the non-dual nature of reality. Years of conditioning have made this difficult to undo. Understanding comes when we cease our habitual grasping and begin experiencing. Seeing things in terms of absolutes just mucks everything up.

Friday, March 17, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thanks Michael,

Reminds me of one of the first exchanges we had -- along the lines of, the more capable of allowing a person becomes, the more life seems to ask of that person in the way of allowing.

Now I've got upstart Dharma-brats telling me that I am no longer a Dharma-heir. Paradoxically, it helps me to see more clearly what the true Dharma is.

Small potatoes compared with what you are contending with, but I think it is the same paradox. Thank you again, true human brother.

Friday, March 17, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thanks Oxeye,

Yup, agree with everything you wrote. Shall we get together and form a good guys team, so then we can go out and defeat all the bad guys.

Friday, March 17, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

good idea mike.. but then who do we schedule for our first match?

Friday, March 17, 2006  
Blogger oxeye said...

mike, sometimes I just like to hear myself talk.. Those are relatively new ideas for me. Old hat for you. I forget Who I am talking to sometimes.

Friday, March 17, 2006  
Blogger 123Twist said...

I think that part of the problem is an overly romanticized view of "Dharma Transmission," and everyone should study this famous study by Professor Lachs ...

http://www.thezensite.com/zen%20essays/Means_of_Authorization.htm

Means of Authorization: Establishing Hierarchy in Ch'an /Zen Buddhism in America

But, in any case, Gudo is now telling everyone that he has cancelled Michael's transmission.

And, Michael, I don't want to go into who I am because it is not worth it, but I am someone privy to events. If you need clarification, contact Gudo and he will confirm it.

Friday, March 17, 2006  
Blogger 123Twist said...

If the link to the study does not work, just Google the title.

"Means of Authorization: Establishing Hierarchy in Ch'an /Zen Buddhism in America"

Friday, March 17, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Oxeye,

In the first round we're facing celestial demons (123twist and the like); we should be able to fight with off with a stick of incense and a copy of Shobogenzo.

In the next round we're up against the Demons of Holding the Breath; available strategies include buying them a beer, telling them a joke, or sending them for an Alexander lesson.

Saturday, March 18, 2006  

Post a Comment

<< Home