Saturday, February 17, 2007

(1c) A step back

Stepping forward is generally associated with a desire to achieve, to get, to grasp, to hold on. A backward step has more to do with dropping out, dropping off, giving up, letting go.

When I focus single-mindedly on the goal of letting go -- concentrating in the way that I practiced concentration in the classroom, in the examination hall, and on the rugby pitch -- that kind of concentration turns a drop-out into a greedy Zen grabber. It turns “dropping off body and mind” into holding on for dear life. It turns letting go of everything into a kind of grasping for something.

The backward step requires a kind of un-concentration that does not come naturally to me; it requires me to make a decision to go against the habit of a lifetime.

Some time soon I will let go of posting on this blog, at least for long enough to prove to myself that I am not totally fixed in this habit of sitting before the computer screen and pontificating. I will make a decision and bloody well stick to it.

Master Dogen wrote that sitting-meditation is not a kind of meditation to be learned. But he also wrote that we should learn the backward step -- that we should learn the backward step of turning light and returning luminance. Then body and mind will drop spontaneously off and our original features will emerge.


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