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Buddhadharma : Spring 2006
buddhadharma| 19 |spirng 2006 Such a brief experience might seem very eas- ily and quickly forgotten. Indeed, the whole pro- cess can sound quite ineffective. What does one do with this glimpse that comes and then is so quickly gone? What good is an experience that is gone the moment we realize it has come? By coming, it did not change anything in my world; everything is just as solid and as real as it was before. Questions and thoughts like these might arise if we do not really connect deeply with that experience, and if we do not nourish it. The beauty of analytical meditation is that it produces a powerful experience of empti- ness. That is why the Tibetan Buddhist tradi- tion has developed such extensive training in logic and debate. Tibetan debate is quite famous. But why do scholars and practitioners engage in these practices? Many stories tell of schol- ars who attained a realization of emptiness in the middle of a debate, in between one chain of thought and another. We might be engaged in a particular reasoning – in an apparently dualistic analysis – and then at some point say, Ah ha! Or we might reach the point of asking, What is it, then? That is the very point at which we have a glimpse of shunyata. From BoDhi magaZine, voL. 7, no. 3. chooSing to loSe To get to the heart of Zen, says Jakusho Kwong- roshi, we must train and actively participate in losing. LOSS IS a very important thing in Zen prac- tice, because we normally try to avoid loss at all costs. But with the training and practice that we have – long hours of sitting, working with people you don’t like, living with people you may not like, eating things you don’t like – we are working with loss. It’s good to do it, to choose to do it. Every human being will go through loss, with or without training. But the training helps. Active participation in loss is like being with the sceneries you see while riding the train. Being with them wholeheartedly, we don’t fear them. We don’t invite them, but we acknowledge them from the train as it runs down the tracks. It stays on track, and you stay onboard. This loss is the eye of Zen – the active partici- pation in loss. Real gain comes when you know how to lose, and have done so. If you’re always thinking about gaining, you are sure to lose. If you’re always thinking about losing, you’ll prob- ably lose too! [Laughter] Better not to think in terms of either gain or loss. From mountain winD, the newsLetter oF sonoma mountain Zen Center (oCtoBer–DeCemBer, 2005). Zendo Power Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede describes the “charge” of a seasoned zendo. THERE IS NOTHING like a zendo tempered by years of zazen to testify to the power of Mind. Upon entering it, you feel your mind settling, your nerves soothed, your blood pressure drop- ping. What creates this effect? Partly it’s the lay- out of the zendo – spare, clean, orderly. All those identical, dark mats and cushions give it some- thing of a hush, and the hardwood floors confer dignity. Another factor is the quality of the air in the room, with its fragrance of not-too-sweet incense mixed with the freshness of the grass mat- ting (gauza). The relative coolness of the zendo offers its own teaching, which in the winter could be translated as “It’s cold – deal with it.” (But, also, the root meaning of “nirvana” is “cool.”) And then there is the natural wood altar, housing the Buddha figure to which we pay homage with flowers, fruit, and candles. This assemblage of elements gives the space a luminous gravity that is wonderfully conducive to zazen. Material elements, however, can’t fully explain the remarkable “charge” of a seasoned zendo. This samadhi-power, or joriki, may be too subtle to register in the consciousness of a beginner, but as time goes on, he or she comes to recognize it. Does this occur as the mind (such as it is) settles into harmony with Mind? What this would mean, really, is that as our thoughts settle, through con- tinued sitting, we become unburdened of them. And a burden they are! It is mentally tiring to traffic in thoughts, most of which refer in some way to the “I,” the “me,” or the “my.” They dis- sipate our energies. But through ongoing zazen, we become freed of them, even if just temporar- ily. This reveals the undivided nature of Mind, and the illusory nature of the notion of “my” mind. From Zen Bow, the newsLetter oF roChester Zen Center (summer 2005). BuDDhaDharma invites your suBmissions to First thoughts. PLease senD PieCes oF 100 to 250 worDs in Length, on a toPiC oF your ChoiCe, to: eDitor@theBuDDhaDharma.Com. STEVEHEYNEN