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Buddhadharma : Spri 2013
SPRING 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 15 THE BUSIER I AM, THE SLOWER I SHOULD GO Martine Batchelor learns a valuable life lesson from a South Korean Zen nun. When I lived in South Korea as a Zen nun, I heard about a nun called Songou Sunim and went to practice with her for three months. She was known for her simplicity and dedica- tion to practice. Once she practiced in a her- mitage for many months and decided to eat raw food to make things simpler. What struck me the most was something she told me one day when we were having tea. She said: “The busier you are, the slower you should go.” Often I remember her suggestion when I start to feel busy and agitated. We have the impression that the busier we are, the faster we should go and so we rush about. But if we look closely at “speeding to achieve more,” in fact often we achieve less and sometimes things fall by the wayside or apart. We are limited by our physical, men- tal, and emotional energy, and there can be space and time constraints. Do we think that we are above these limits and constraints and can run around, accumulating projects and activities regardless? Or do we recognize and appreciate these limits and constraints and instead of fighting against them, creatively engage with the situation? The basis for this creative engagement could be this phrase: “The busier I am, the slower I should go.” We can use this phrase in different ways. It could help us look at how we organize ourselves. Do we take on too much? Are we realistic about how much we can accomplish? How do we work? What are our assumptions? Do we need to feel busy to feel alive and wor- thy? When we are busy and excited everything seems urgent and essential, but we can only multitask so much before we collapse. Doing one thing at a time well—not too slowly, not too fast—while being totally engaged can make a difference. When it’s fin- ished we can move to the next thing without grasping at what has just passed or regretting how it went. When we’re able to leave behind the last task in this way, then we can fully engage with the next task at hand. When we start to feel busy and the impulse to speed up, we can try to be aware of our body standing, walking, or sitting—not an idea of the body, but how it actually feels right now. The feet on the ground, the back against the office chair, shaking someone’s hand, feeling the wind on the face if one is outside. Also we can be aware of one or two breaths, in and out, or be intimately aware of our surroundings: the green of a field, the blueness of the sky, the friendliness of a coworker. Coming back to the task at hand, we consider what is the first thing to do, then the next, each done in its own time, not trip- ping ourselves up by rushing about and being ahead of ourselves too much. FROM INSIGHT JOURNAL, OCTOBER 2012 IN THE DARKEST MOMENTS Hozan Alan Senauke finds relief from depression in meditation and friendship, two experiences that in different ways help him feel connected. After nearly thirty years of meditation, I have come to no great enlightenment. I haven’t seen the cosmic light shows or transcendental visions of reality. This is not to say I do not feel changed or even free and joyful at times. But freedom is momentary. I appreciate it for what it is. I just don’t stay there, and that is okay with me. That’s a loaded word—“stay.” In terms of the law of anicca, or imperma- nence, one does not stay anywhere. But I digress. What I mean to say is that I have come to think that given my propensity toward depression—biochemical, hereditary, or kar- mic—the settledness of meditation, the sense of relief in just sitting down, may be as good as it gets for me. There is a phrase I love from Eihei Dogen in our Zen tradition: “When dharma fills your body and mind, you realize