Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Gap Revisited (2): Q & A with Gudo

My Question: I notice that it is still very difficult for me, when I practice sitting-zen, to be free of idealistic effort (trying to be right, trying to become somebody). After almost 70 years of daily sitting-zen and studying and teaching Shobogenzo, do you still notice any idealistic tendency within your own sitting-zen practice?

Gudo's Anwer: After almost 70 years of daily sitting-zen and studying and teaching Shobogenzo, I do not have any kind of idealistic tendency in my life. When I am practicing Zazen, I always keep my spine straight vertically, and such efforts can not do anything for me to do other than sitting.


Blogger oxeye said...

Mike - Do you understand Gudo to mean that he has no idealistic tendencies while sitting or did he mean he has eliminated them from his life?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007  
Blogger Mike Cross said...

It is a good question, oxeye, and thanks for asking it.

It might be a question like: Why did Bodhidharma come from the west?

I don't know for sure what Gudo's intention was before and what it is now, but probably the ultimate answer has something to do with the lavender in the garden.

What I do clearly know is that idealistic effort to keep the spine straight vertically leads the sitter progressively in the direction not of stillness but of fixity.

What I do know is that I myself do have this idealistic tendency in my life, and being able to glimpse this tendency, even partially, is a kind of starting point of my happiness in sitting.

It has not been my intention to identify Alexander work and the Buddha's teaching, that is, sitting-zen, into one thing. But I have found Alexander work to be a very valuable tool in helping me to become aware of lengthening and narrowing as an idealistic tendency.

I consider myself really fortunate at least to have got this little bit of understanding about what true sitting-zen is. In many respects, I have been blessed with more luck than I deserve.

I couldn't be satisfied with Gudo's teaching alone, and neither could I be satisfied with Alexander work alone -- without sitting in lotus, wearing the robe, et cetera. But putting the two halves together, I have a dipper from which to get water. Lucky me!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007  

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