Saturday, June 25, 2011

Unattached and Non-Resistant

In Zen we talk about no self and freedom from suffering, but what are these things? What is no self, really, and why are we suffering from a self? In order to answer these questions we must seek for them through our experience or else they are just nihilistic terms that have no actual weight in the reality of our everyday lives. We must embody the everyday reality in order to realize no self and no suffering.

When I talk about Raw Mind I say that it is all inclusive. This means that there is nothing to experience as self and nothing to experience as not self. This does not mean that there is no experience. If there were nothing to experience than there would be no reason to do zazen and no reason for us to say anything about freedom at all. It is true that there is nothing to learn in Zen but this doesn't mean that there is nothing to unlearn.

I spend a lot of my time in zazen unlearning. I heard that Master Rinzai said zazen is nothing more than untying knots and breaking down barriers. Last March while I was in Florida for retreat I was able to get there a day early and have day of zazen to myself. Afterwards I met with Sensei and we discussed my day. I told him that I was working with doubt all day. When he asked me what I meant by doubt I told him that I meant a sort of self doubt. A way of experience that fundamentally says,"I doubt I am that, I doubt I am this." I don't actually hear a voice or notice a thought that tells me this, rather I recognize that it's ultimately what I'm experiencing on an unconscious level. I can tell this by my karma. Now the word karma means action. So what I mean is that when something arises in zazen, say a sensation or a thought, a corresponding action wants to arise. This is an indication of the way I am experiencing my zazen. The action is motivated by an emotion which is fueled by an idea or concept. Which is why we experience pain and tension in zazen when we are emotional. It is these ideas and concepts which create separation, which create a separate self. Thus we can say it is the wheel of karma that keeps us suffering time and time again. Maybe now it is a little clearer why JUST sitting, or non action is the way out of the the wheel of karma. By working with karma I am ultimately working with doubt which means I am letting go of the notion of a limited separate self.

It is very interesting to see how this plays out in relationships. It is one thing to be one with the sound of a temple bell but another to be one with another human being. Recently my father had a stroke. One would think that my dominate emotion in this situation would be one of concern or maybe some fear. But if I am honest I will say that is was anger that was dominate. Because of my practice I was able to get close to my anger and examine it to see what the root was. Of course there was the reasoning that said," It's his fault. He doesn't take care of himself. For only being 60 yrs. old and already having three strokes!?!?!?! He sure is in bad shape." All this reasoning just made me more angry and wasn't helping with anything. It's funny actually, the only time we can reason with something is when it has already happened in one way or another. So it never really helps with anything rather it tries to change the way we feel about it. Which is exactly what it was doing for me in this case. I didn't want to feel this instance with my father. I didn't want to change the way I felt about him. The anger I felt towards my father was a resistance which kept his vulnerability from penetrating my being. I didn't want to be vulnerable. After he was released from the hospital I was able to speak with him on the phone. By the mere sound of his voice I was then able to allow him in and I became vulnerable. This is when I was able to just love him for who he is and the situation he is in. No judgments and no reason.

Suffering is the inability to embody a given moment due to the self and its reason, ideas and concepts. No Self is the shedding of these reasons, ideas and concepts which throw us into an automatic emergence with the present moment, thus freeing us from the suffering of our inflexibility. No Self is definitely something though you cannot put your finger on it and suffering is that which points the finger.

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