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Buddhadharma : Fall 2015
fall 2 0 1 5 buDDhaDharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 25 public. Either way, the illness takes us over and we are just waiting for it to go away, or fearing that it won’t go away, or maybe knowing it isn’t going to go away. At times like this, practice can seem like a dream or a luxury. Dongshan’s words are telling us that there is a way to practice with our illness. And that practicing with our illness is the best thing we can do for our health. A few months ago, I had another episode of my usual back and leg problems. I injured myself when I was young doing manual labor, lifting heavy stuff without being careful, and ever since, from time to time, I have had painful episodes. It’s always different. This last time the worst pain was when I was lying down, so I couldn’t sleep. I went for maybe five days without sleeping more than an hour or so at a time. I was getting up many times during the night. This was a little tough. Eventually I took some pain medication and was able to sleep more, and finally I got over it. While this was going on, I tried to pay close attention to the painful sensations. I noticed that it could be very bad if I began to speculate about what was going on, to define it and make When Illness Is Our Path Meditation can help us deal with illness when it strikes, says norman fischer. But even more important, practicing with illness reveals what is beyond sick and not sick. HERE IS THE NINETY-FOURTH case from the koan collection The Book of Serenity: Once when Dongshan was ill, a monastic asked him, “You are ill, teacher, but is there anyone who doesn’t get ill?” Dongshan said, “There is.” The monastic said, “Does the one who doesn’t get ill look after you?” Dongshan said, “I look after him.” The monastic said, “How is it when you look after him?” Dongshan said, “Then I don’t see that he has any illness.” We all suffer from illness from time to time, and usually when that happens, our practice goes out the window. The illness becomes compelling and we forget about whatever else we were trying to do. We are completely occupied with the illness, which we don’t like, so we become crabby and sometimes fearful. Or we might try to ignore the illness and soldier on. But even if this is possible, there seems to be a dulling or a dragging effect on our mood, though we may be successful in covering this up in illustrations by taryn gee