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Buddhadharma : Summer 2016
summer 2 0 1 6 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 13 However, in Japan, there is a lot more emphasis on form. In a Japanese monastery, there is a precise form for how to put away your futon when you wake up, how to wash your face and brush your teeth, how to stand and sit. Now that I’m in America, in a more loosely structured environment, I appreciate those forms more. I think about the difference between Japanese and American practice as the dif- ference between ballet and modern dance. Ultimately, all dance is dance, yet there are different methods, and ballet came first. Bal- let is what all dancers should learn before they can move on to modern dance. I say “ballet” but really I mean all of the basic, fundamental positions you learn at the barre, all the muscle training and repetition that goes into becoming a ballet dancer, a million and a half hours in first, second, and third position, standing straight, moving your arm exactly right. Ballet is a lot like Japanese practice. Personally, I like watching and doing modern dance more. It’s fun and creative and sexy. It feels relevant, whereas ballet can be boring, rigid, and obsessed with rep- etition and form. However, while it’s very easy to transition into modern dance with a background in ballet, it’s very hard to be a ballet dancer with only training in modern dance. This is because ballet stresses the fundamentals, and fundamentals can be applied anywhere. Now that I’m back in the U.S., where everything is new and I feel like I am in con- stant free fall, I’m grateful for my muscles, for my training in first, second, and third position. And I look forward to dancing a new dance. FROM ThATSSOzEN.BLOGSPOT.COM, MARCh 7, 2016 the crash is part of it For Brad Warner, zazen is like surfing— every single time you do it, you fall. When I was in Munich, Germany, a while ago, a friend took me to a river called Eis- bach, which means “ice brook.” In the river there is a standing wave, owing to some kind of concrete thing under the water. People like to surf that wave. As I stood there watching the surfers stay on for a little while and then fall off, I thought about Dogen’s advice about thinking the thought of not-thinking. No matter how good those surfers were, nobody could stay on that wave for more than about a minute. Even thought it was about as predictable as a wave could pos- sibly be, it was still a vibrant, living thing. When those surfers crashed after a minute or so, they didn’t waste a lot of time beating themselves up for not staying on for five or ten minutes. Everyone knows that simply can’t be done. They crash and then they get right back on the wave again. For me, zazen is kind of the same. I ride my nonthought for as long as I can, then I crash and get right back on it again. How long I stay there depends on factors beyond my control. It depends on what’s been going on for me that day or that week, how much I’ve eaten, how much sleep I’ve gotten, what the person next to me smells like, and an endless list of other factors I can’t do any- thing about. In zazen we are not trying to establish control of our thoughts. That’s an illusion anyway. Just stay upright as long as you can, crash as you inevitably must, and get back on again. FROM Don’t Be a Jerk, NEW WORLD LIBRARy, MARCh 2016