Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hard Work, Finding Ease

Marjory wrote: “The wrong inner patterns are the doing which has to be stopped.”

To stop doing, in sitting upright in the full lotus posture, is to find true ease.

But this is very hard work.

Physically, to sit upright in the full lotus posture requires an effort. Even a Zen master has to make an effort to get himself up out of bed in the morning and go to his sitting place. A beginner has to make even more of a physical effort, day by day, in order eventually to become free from pain when sitting with the legs crossed in lotus.

Mentally, an even greater effort is required in order to stop the wrong inner patterns that Marjory talked about. She described, more eloquently than I ever will, the kind of effort that is required, in her beautifully elegant Alexander Memorial Lecture given in November 1965 -- reproduced in full on my sister blog “It is not that.”

Whatever mental effort I make, it always turns out to be another case of “No. It is not that.” That is why, I suppose, Marjory used to say that if you really do this work, it keeps you humble. My mental efforts invariably miss the target. The problem is that my mental efforts, though totally necessary, are included in the wrong inner patterns which are the doing which has to be stopped.

What is the connection between the Alexander recognition “It is not that,” and the key phrase in Fukan-zazen-gi HISHIRYO, “non-thinking”? For me, the connection is very strong.

Everybody has to find that connection for himself or herself. I cannot force you to sit in the full lotus posture, learn Fukan-zazen-gi off by heart, and then get inside your brain and make the connection for you. I wish I could. But I can’t do the work for you. The best I can do is to do the work for myself.

I make a physical effort to sit in the full lotus posture every day. In general, I sit in four sessions per day, early morning, late morning, afternoon, and evening.

I make a mental effort to stop doing, to find ease.

As a result of these efforts, especially when I am practicing alone by the forest in France, sometimes ease finds me.

Then I understand what Marjory endeavored to teach me. Then I understand why Master Dogen said HISHIRYO, non-thinking, was the essential art of Zazen, which is not a kind of training but is rather a kind of gate to reality -- ANRAKU no HOMON. HOMON means Dharma-gate. ANRAKU means ease.

Zazen is not easy, but it’s criterion is ease.

I am sorry, Marjory. I am not worthy.


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