Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sitting with body and mind

This morning I am not like a dragon that found water, and not like a tiger before its mountain stronghold -- one with itself and its surroundings, liberated from body and mind. I am a miserable wretch making effort to sit in the full lotus posture with the body and with the mind.

For one thing I sprained my right ankle a couple of days ago, stepping over a plank at a wood yard, onto a wet rock. I can still sit in full lotus with my right foot uppermost, but not the other way round. Anyway, though the condition is even further from ideal than usual, I can still make my effort to sit in the lotus posture with my body, putting my left foot on my right thigh, and my swollen right ankle on my left thigh.

The effort I make with my mind is firstly to remember that there is “a vigorous path of getting the body out” to which Master Dogen pointed. I am easily prone to lose this path, in the presence of the slightest gap. For example, I am easily prone to do wrong, and then to worry about it. I have long been someone who disregards social rules -- the kind of person who can’t be bothered to wait at a red light if there is obviously no traffic about -- and this attitude from time to time seems to lead me into trouble. Having strayed yesterday, I feel ashamed of a mistake I made in a supermarket carpark, and of the way I reacted to that mistake. Nevertheless, I have not disappeared into a hole. Instead, I found myself at 5 am this morning bodily sitting in lotus, and, eventually, asking myself: what mental effort can I make to recover the vigorous path of freedom in sitting?

First, I remember that this path exists, as I have been taught and as I have experienced. Naturally following from this act of remembrance is the act of wishing to direct myself back onto that path, and to direct myself further along it, further back into the unknown, further out into the unknown. “Back” means, for example, before the existence of the fear paralysis response or Moro reflex. “Out” means, for example, beyond the influence of the fear paralysis response or Moro reflex.

The Japanese say BAKA NIMO ICHI GE; “Even a fool has one virtue.” I am afraid that my contribution to human society is all too often negative. If I have anything valuable to offer, it must be related with Fukan-zazen-gi.

By nature, I am not a dove but a gambling hawk, all of whose eggs are in one basket. All my other baskets have long been neglected and have fallen into disrepair.

Master Dogen died in his early 50s. Soon I will be 47.

Why doesn’t anyone ask me about Fukan-zazen-gi? For God’s sake, somebody please give me the opportunity, before this dew-drop life falls, to write something that might be useful to others.

3 Comments:

Blogger oxeye said...

"Why doesn’t anyone ask me about Fukan-zazen-gi? For God’s sake, somebody please give me the opportunity, before this dew-drop life falls, to write something that might be useful to others."

Mike, This is an important point. The thing that you need from people is their trust. That is fragile. If people sense that you do not value them, they will not value you. They will not trust you. Unkind language and verbal abuse is nothing but bad habit and mental slouching. I confess to that.

You write that you want people to give you an opportunity to help them. You do not need anyone to give you anything in order for you to be useful to them. What you need is to be able to give without conditions. I am not talking about you sharing your knowledge of the Fukan-zazen-gi. Our habitual tendency is to react to poor behavior with poor behavior. That is deplorable and the stuff of war. It is a common waste of time. Give what you can, without expecting anything in return. That is what we need.

Thursday, October 12, 2006  
Blogger Michael Tait said...

What is the meaning of expressing one's true nature?

Thursday, October 12, 2006  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

Thank you for your question, MT.

Fukan-zazen-gi has the expression HONRAI NO MENMOKU GENZEN SEN.

HONRAI means original. MENMOKU means face and eyes. So HONRAI NO MENMOKU means our orginal face, or true nature. GENZEN SEN means “will manifest itself” or “will appear.”

The context is:

EKO HENSHO NO TAIHO O GAKU SUBESHI. SHINJIN JINNEN NI DATSURAKU SHITE, HONRAI NO MENMOKU GENZEN SEN.

“Learn the backward step of turning light and returning illumination. Body and mind naturally drop off and the original face appears.”

So my understanding is that we express our true nature by making the kind of effort I described in my post this morning -- by sitting with body and sitting with mind. But beyond that, body and mind dropping off naturally/spontaneously/effortlessly is our true nature expressing itself.

Thursday, October 12, 2006  

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