Improvement or “transformation” modes of practice have their merit and may be viable for us in some ways and at some times. I genuinely respect these approaches. However, Soto Zen meditation is different from other schools of Buddhism, Hinduism and secular meditation in an important respect.
Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking meditation is going to do something for them, make them calmer or happier. There has been loads of research on how meditation does that. But without adequate preparation it really just gets us in touch with our own misery. This is why I suggest asking not what your meditation practice can do for you, but what you can do for your meditation practice.
The Abrahamic faiths as well as Buddhism offer ethical guidelines for how to attain their respective goals – whether it be intimacy with God or Awakening. The Hebrew Bible talks about, among other things, Commandments. But just the word, “Commandment” can be problematic if we have not properly developed our ability to choose from an early age, prior to understanding right from wrong. The 10 Commandments are really an advanced kind of practice, in my view, once an understanding of choice has been well established. If choice has not been well established during youth, in other words if a young person is consistently denied opportunities to make choices, or even consistently given things that they would never choose, then that person will not be prepared to even consider living by the 10 Commandments. I think the same can be said of the Buddhist precepts. The flip side of this is that – considering that the mental factor of choice has not been well developed – then precepts or “commandments” will most likely be followed blindly without the ability to question them.
A prejudice mind is one that is experiencing fluctuations. It is the opposite of steady. When our mind is not steady, we know we are not seeing reality as it is. But this insight into our fluctuating mind only comes if we have a practice well established. Otherwise, we filter what we perceive through our confused senses as reality. We think what we are seeing is real, when in fact we are mistaking a distortion for reality.
What’s the way out of the pleasure/pain torment we find ourselves constantly navigating? Buddha suggests not just meditation.
At Mount Equity Zendo there were two very old pear trees. These were not the kind of pears you found in the grocery store. They fell off the trees and were quite hard. Because of the shed, consisting of a tin roof, that was right beneath them, when they fell they made quite a bang.
Fear for me is being asked by my wife to take care of our two-year old son, Malcolm, by myself.
Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them. Children have been by far my best teachers. Jesus said that if we can learn to have the mind of a child, then we will enter the kingdom of heaven. The child’s mind is open, receptive, and sincerely curious about life. When sitting zazen, Dai-En Roshi wouldContinue reading “A Dharma Doorway”
In our culture there is a major split between mind and body. Generally speaking, the body gets treated one way and the mind another. We go to a gym to develop our body. We go to a classroom to develop our mind. The body is considered physical: muscle, bones, ligaments, organs. The mind is generallyContinue reading “Where is my mind?”