Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More Better Practicing

The practice of patience, loving kindness, sympathetic joy, abstinence, virtue ...  What are these things?

Is it possible to practice patience, for example, when nothing is bothering you? Or is "practicing patience" the thought which counter-balances "not doing what is instinctual" when circumstances collide with your intent?

Zen meditators sit.  For longer and longer periods, they sit.  A pain arises slowly, but the meditator does not move... The pain increases and the thought to resist grows louder, but still there is no movement.  The want to shift the body grows stronger, but the meditator adds the thought not to disturb his peers into the balance. The need to stretch the joint intensifies, but not wanting the teacher to see his discomfort weighs in.  The tortured practitioner's attention intensifies, moving between the pain and the thought, the pain and the thought, justification and excuse...  Finally, a break or a surrender---either way, there is mental and physical relief.

Was it a "bad sit"?  Was he dealing with pain?  Was he perfecting his form?  Was he chasing thought?

... or was he sitting?  ... and then not sitting?  ... or neither?

We experience the physical sensation, the emotions, the thoughts---but aren't those all just the traces of "just sitting"?  If we surrender to the itch and scratch it, are we still sitting?  How about if we follow the thoughts instead?

We see the trace, and we mistake that for who we are.  But if you are not that, then what are you?  Can you see your reflection in the sum of your pain and your thought and see that you are "just sitting" even though the thought of sitting never crossed your mind?

Then what of the rest of the day?

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