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Buddhadharma : Summer 2018
Playing in a garden among the cherry trees, I stretch out for a nap in my little hut. —Ryokan (1758–1831), translation by John Stevens AS A YOUNG MONK, I loved this poem and the many like it, the images of Ryokan and other great Zen masters of old living out the fulfillment of the Buddha Way by wandering the forests, giggling with children, resting when tired, and eating when hungry. So pure! So free! So refreshing! My teachers and elders appreciated Ryokan’s napping as well, but when I did it, they didn’t appreciate it nearly as much. My naps sim- ply ended in my teachers exhorting me to return to meditation. The message seems to be that there is some big difference between Ryokan’s napping and my own. Of course, the distinction is dubi- ous: “Do as I say, not as I do.” But it also reveals a vital point in our practice, a dynamic between effort and non-effort. Ryokan’s nap expresses the effortlessness that all Buddhists understand as the end of the path. Granted, not all Buddhists picture their sages giggling with children—some prefer, for example, the From Effort to Effortlessness: The Six Gates of Breath Meditation Jiryu Rutschman-Byler BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 23 opposite | Inhale Hold Exhale, 2016 INSTALLATIONS by JEPPE HEIN COURTESYKÖNIGGALERIE,BERLIN|303GALLERY,NEWYORK|GALLERINICOLAIWALLNER,COPENHAGENPHOTOGRAPHYSTUDIOJEPPEHEIN/HENDRIKALBRECHT