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Buddhadharma : Spri 2007
buddhadharma| 13 |spring 2007 Reflecting back, I remember seeing people try- ing to talk while walking on the path, one behind the other, instead of side-by-side. Clearly it was difficult and irritating having to turn backwards to talk, and soon they stopped talking. In its nar- rowness, the path caused them to pause and think twice about talking. Yes, here was a skillful and gentle reminder to walk in silence ... to just walk ... the silence of doing. The narrow path was an extension of form outside the zendo. While narrowness and form could be confining, here it was offered to bring us the silence of walking the Path. I’m reminded that it is up to us to engage in practice. The path is there for us to step onto. Forms are filled with the support of reminders to look inward to the silence of just doing. Where the support of forms ends depends on our own perception. Similarly in Kyudo, the form doesn’t end with the release of the arrow but continues in silence and mindfulness as the archer retrieves the arrow and departs the defined practice area. When one steps from the practice area, does one leave the support of forms? Is there a narrow raked path one walks down to remind one of silence? froM MoUnTAin Wind, oCToBer–deCeMBer 2006, puBliShed By SoNoMa MouNTaiN ZeN CeNTer. Strange bedfellowS Author and Zen priest Brad Warner recently began blogging on the alternative porn website, suicidegirls.com. The pop- and sub-culture dharma website, theworsthorse.net, broke the news, post- ing his debut blog with a link titled “Strange Bedfellows?” My name is Brad and I’m a Buddhist. And some- times I enjoy saying that about as much as any member of a twelve–step program enjoys getting up and admitting his addiction. That’s not because I’m ashamed of Buddhism in any way. Buddhism rules. But often I’m embarrassed to be thought of in the way most American seems to think about Buddhists. What makes it even worse is that I’m not just a Buddhist; I am, in fact, what the writ- ers of the old Kung Fu TV series used to call a “Zen master.” For those of you who are into such things, I received my dharma transmission from Gudo Nishijima, who is of the Soto school of Zen (though he thinks the Soto school itself is “a guild of funeral directors”). I even wrote a book about Zen and I’ve got another one coming out soon. In spite of being a Zen master, I have never lived in a monastery high in the Himalayas. I have not practiced severe austerities and esoteric purification rituals. I am not prone to out-of-body experiences or privy to higher states of awareness. I do not worship a fat Chinese man. And I don’t really care a whole lot one way or the other about what the Dalai Lama may be up to. I’ve put in most of my Buddhist practice in big, ugly, noisy cities – a decade or so in Akron, Ohio, eleven years in Tokyo, and now I live in Los Angeles. I’ve been in the film business for most of those years, too, and I have no intention of getting out anytime soon. I started practicing zazen meditation when I was the bass player for a hardcore band called Zero Defects back in the early ’80s. Buddhism took what I thought were the truly worthwhile things about the hardcore punk movement to their logical conclusion. The hardcores questioned society’s values but never really questioned their own. The hardcores knew the straight world was fucked but didn’t seem to have any idea what to do about that. Buddhism was absolutely free of the kind of bullshit I’d found in every religion I’d looked into. The object of Buddhist worship is this world itself, the reality we are living in right now. No God, no angels, no heaven or hell, no savior except yourself. A lot of religiously inclined folks want to know what happens after they die. To me, that’s hardly an urgent matter. I’m alive now. Not dead. I want to know what the life I’m living right now really is. I want to know how to live this life in a sane and reasonable way. pondering potatoeS A dharma student recalls an unusual but highly effective teaching about the personal cost of hold- ing grudges. One of my teachers had each of us bring a clear plastic bag and a sack of potatoes. For every per- son in our life that we refused to forgive, we chose a potato, wrote on it the name and date, and put it in the plastic bag. Some of our bags were quite heavy. We were then told to carry this bag with us everywhere we went for one week – we had to put it beside our bed at night, on the car seat when driving, next to our desk at work, and so on. The hassle of lugging this bag of potatoes around made it clear what a weight we were carrying spiritually and how we had to pay attention to it all the time, so as not to forget it and keep leaving it in embar- rassing places. Naturally, the condition of the potatoes dete- riorated to a nasty slime. This was a great meta- phor for the price we pay for keeping our pain and heavy negativity! Too often we think of forgive- ness as a gift to the other person, and clearly it is a gift for ourselves. froM aN uNSigNed poSTiNg oN a weB diSCuSSioN group, puBliShed iN The neW YoRK KoKoRo NewSleTTer, oCToBer 2006. STEVEHEYNEN