Saturday, April 24, 2010

Summer Retreat in West of Ireland.

Peter Rocca Sensei (on left, with Nishijima Roshi) will be conducting a weekend retreat this summer July 31st- August 2nd in Ireland.

It'll be held at the very nice Sunyata Retreat Centre which is situated in the rolling countryside of lovely East Clare. The timetable will not be too intensive and so it will suit beginners.

You can read about it and make a booking here.

(...Although the website doesn't work for me every time I try for some reason. If it doesn't work, try later!)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sitting Upright: An Amazing, Mysterious Feat Beyond Our Comprehension!!!

Someone last night asked the very sensible question: 'Why do you do it [zazen]?'

In response to this question Kodo Sawaki, the celebrated 20th century Japanese Zen Master, might boldly roar 'Zazen is useless!' or 'There is no reason!', one of his students, Kosho Uchiyama might say 'Do zazen for the sake of doing zazen'. Gudo Nishijima Sensei might say 'Do zazen to balance the autonomic nervous system', and that such balanced action brings clarity and poise to our life...

All these answers are valid and true. The most important thing is to actually do it if we want to understand it... And remember that doing it involves dropping off all our expectations of it, and all the demands of it that we will find ourselves thinking up (which is what Kodo Sawaki was getting at maybe):

'Be like an open gate'.

The issue came up of spiritual teachers who can (allegedly) perform miraculous feats (such as levitating, manifesting solid objects out of nowhere etc etc)... We can believe or disbelieve whatever we want about this stuff, but doing zazen is not directly a matter of belief, nor cynicism: What is of central importance is that we actually do it and just let go of our values, beliefs and disbeliefs for a while... and then maybe we can learn something about our values and beliefs, and ourselves.

Our bodies constantly manifest anew from moment to moment so that we may move and grow. We can know a person's mind by the smile on her face or the tear in his eye. We can fly in a plane, or hang-glide, or bungee jump or dance around like big kids... now that is miraculous!