Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer Break, Brad Warner Visit, 'Dropping Views/Opinions', Zombies etc etc...

Firstly, the evenings at The Dock have finished for the summer to resume in early September. This is to follow the format of other classes/workshops there: It's a pain for The Dock to open the place up just for us. I hope you can continue to do some zazen at home during this time. Remember that it's generally advised that establishing a practice of a few minutes each day, or twice a day, is more important than doing a longer sitting just once or twice a week. You can build up the sitting time as you get used to it. Good luck, and thank you for all your efforts.

Secondly, someone last night said (quite sensibly) that they were uncomfortable with the idea of 'dropping our views and opinions' in Buddhism. It's important to stress that this statement about dropping views and opinions only refers to zazen where we allow everything to come and go for a time, where we stop our usual judging and evaluating when we notice that we're doing it. In this way we can get a broader perspective on our views and opinions for a time. The point is not to makes us zoned out, blank-minded zombies all the time: that would actually be a dangerous way to live, as we're required to evaluate and make judgements as part of our everyday lives. The problem is that we sometimes mistake our own views and opinions as some sort of real, exterior reality. Zazen addresses this and allows us to see our thinking and evaluating from a more realistic perspective. Doing it regularly also develops an intuitive understanding of the way things really are... but that's another story.

Thirdly, if anyone is interested in hearing about one-day events or other Buddhisty things that may be going on during the summer in this area then please drop me a line with your contact details and I'll include you on our info list.

One event that springs to mind is that the US Buddhist teacher and author Brad Warner is visiting Belfast next month. Details can be found HERE (scroll down the page a bit).

...And check out the July/August retreat in lovely Co Clare in the links menu up on the right hand side there.

...AND (phew!) a few of us are talking about meeting up weekly at my house in Boyle for zazen during the summer. Contact me for details.

Hope you have a great summer!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not One Other Thing to Hide From.

Zazen can sometimes be misused as a place to hide, as a place to protect ourselves from the world, or to feel superior, 'transcended', 'more enlightened' etc etc. Sometimes we might get absorbed in aspects of our self in doing it and abuse it to protect, and even enhance, such thoughts and feelings about our self. This, of course, is inherently selfish and is not the very real, tangible conduct of 'dropping body and mind' as proposed in Buddhism.

Zazen allows us to receive everything and everybody without exception as our own life. We can drop our involvement with our usual comfort zones and narratives for a time and revel in the great diversity of our life unlimited. In sitting firmly upright, and allowing ALL our usual 'stuff' to just come and go, we can learn and clarify what Buddhism is really about.

I came across this quote from a great Chinese Master in a book by Robert Aitken Roshi last night:

You who sit on the top of a hundred foot pole,
Although you have entered the Way, it is not yet genuine.
Take a step from the top of the pole
And the universe in the ten directions will be your entire body.