using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Winter 2013
WINTER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 65 JIM WILLEMS has been a Buddhist practitioner for more than forty years and a student of Joseph Goldstein since 1992. He teaches vipassana and jhana meditation at the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, California. My body’s illness is con- genital. It combines an irritation of the nervous system, degeneration of the skeletal system, and the gradual disappear- ance of all connective tissue in the body. Now, ten surgeries later, both hips, shoulders, and one knee are artificial. I’ve also had surgery for can- cer. I take fentanyl and tramadol to help with the pain. And I practice dharma. The illness first manifested in 1960, during puberty when I was a sophomore in high school. The doctors ordered bed rest for six months to try to prevent severe curvature of my spine. I had to lie on a board with a round pillow under my neck and use special prism glasses for reading. While I was lying there, I read a Jack Kerouac novel and decided to study Zen. I read every book by D.T. Suzuki I could get my hands on and Paul Reps’ Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. Lying on my back, I tried to do zazen. After about a month, something began to manifest; either a profound mystical experience or an enduring makyo, the perceptual distortions or hallucinations that can occur during zazen. Whether he was a makyo or something else, an Asian man appeared to teach me how to do zazen correctly. He worked with me every night for two months. He taught me to sit in a full lotus position and to practice lying down. He was abrasive. His eyes were fierce. He was dressed in a red robe, and he stomped around the room holding a long staff topped with a brass trident. He gave me koans to ponder. He was terrible and he was wonderful. When he seemed satisfied with my practice he disappeared, never to return. I may never know what this experience was, but I practice today because his teaching was exactly what I needed. At that time, the pain was primarily in my lumbar vertebrae. It made sitting zazen painful. In fact, sitting still was almost impossible for any length of time. Later, when I tried to explain this illness to coordinators at Rinzai or Soto centers, I was told not to try a sesshin if I couldn’t sit still. I asked if I couldn’t sit someplace in the back, where I would not disturb anyone. I was told no. (This was during the sixties and early seventies.) After a while, I gave up trying to find a com- munity and practiced alone or with friends. In the mid-eighties, I thought I’d try again and approached the Providence Zen Center for per- mission to do a retreat. I was given an interview with Seung Sahn, its Korean Zen master. On the day of the interview, I was nervous and scared. Directed to his room, I knocked three times before an angry voice finally yelled for me to come in. Soen Sa Nim (as his students called him) had a serious flu. His face was red, his nose was dripping mucus, and he was coughing violently. Aghast, I just stared at him. I was completely at alossastowhattodo. He gave me a cursory look and said, “Get me some Kleenex!” I handed him a box. He blew his nose and handed me the used Kleenex. I threw it away. He said, “What do you want?” I said, “I want you to be my teacher.” “Humph!” he said. “Who are you? What’s your story?” I told him a little about myself, my illness, my practice, my reading. He stared at me for a while. Then, “You shouldn’t come here to practice. This place is getting ready to come apart. Write me. We will do some kong-an [koan] practice in the mail. Don’t write long letters. Just use post- cards. Your first kong-an is ‘Does your dog have buddhanature?’ ” He angrily blew his nose again and waved me out. As I was leaving I asked, “So, will you be my teacher?” I felt confused and uncertain about what had just happened. EVAD.DESLAURIERS