Tonight, if all goes well, I will be a monk in a good-sized Buddhist temple. I am hoping it will be in Nara, at Todai-ji perhaps, or Asakusa at Senso-ji, or better still somewhere in Kyoto, although it might well be in the Myanmar jungle or somewhere deep within the Laotian highlands.
One problem with that world is that I have no control over it, which, come to think of it, leaves it like the waking world which has never hewn to my direction.
I’ve had this desire for weeks on end, and I suspect tonight will be no different, and I will spend eight hours sorting files, writing cease and desist letters and trying to convince myself that even that is a form of mindful meditation and abiding kensho will arrive in the next rapid eye movement.
The Buddha said that any task you do if done mindfully is a sort of meditation. We assume he said it, we’ve been told he did, but no one I know was anywhere near that bodhi tree, so we take it on faith. When it comes to things like chopping large quantities of onions, or roasting coffee beans I totally get it, it does seem like meditation, and deep at that. Walking the dog makes the list, and perhaps convincing the cat to do anything she didn’t think of by out waiting her. I can even accept washing the car or the dishes, but washing the dog is only so on rare occasions and only if I medicate her first, and the cat, forget it. But even Buddha would have to concede that no matter how totally mindful you are, driving anywhere in either Broward or Miami-Dade counties is as far from meditative as opting to commit sepuku with a butter knife.
If you walk into the room and many are meditating how will you know which is the teacher, which the students?
If one sits on a higher platform will you assume him teacher and ask the depth of his Zen. If he comes down to you and says he has no depth to offer do not think him a fool. When you sit at the bottom of the ocean and look down the water beneath you is shallow but the surface of the sea cannot be seen.
If you ask your question you will find an answer but ask another and the stick will respond each time. If you seek another teacher will you change the question or the answer, and does it matter. Take up the stick, who will you strike, your teacher or yourself, and is there any real difference?
A reflection on Case 27 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
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