Monday, December 13, 2010

Check, Put Down

A reader asks,

Those last two posts about 'correct relationship' were interesting, but didn't Seung Sahn also say 'Don't check?'

Excellent question, and I regret leaving this out.

Indeed, Zen Master Seung Sahn talked a great deal about "checking," the habit of standing apart and "checking" a situation against our desires, opinions, preconceived notions, and so on. He even described various kinds of checking. Because this habit is very strong in many people, he talked about "checking mind" quite often.

After I had been around for a while, the Zen Center started giving me jobs to do at retreats, and when I moved in they asked me to be Head Dharma Teacher. The HDT's job is to make sure people are practicing and to instruct people on the correct forms and correct people as necessary. It seemed that it was now my job to check other people and I questioned it.

So I went in to see Dae Kwang Sunim, the teacher at the temple, and asked him about this. He shrugged and said, "You have a checking job. The job helps other people, so just do it. Check, then put it down. Check, put down. Check, put down."

Right. Duh.

So maybe this applies to the other sticky business of life.

The first question is, why do this? What is the direction of this activity? Is this "a checking job" that helps other people? Or is it just desire?

If the direction is clear then "check, put down."

In the voting booth: check, put down.

In the board meeting: check, put down.

If you are helping to make a political party or choose a candidate: check, put down.

Parenting: check, put down.

Conducting a job interview: check, put down.

Writing a letter to your Senator: check, put down.

And so on.

[Photo: Some Zen Centers use "the stick" to correct posture or to whack the back or shoulders of drowsy students. No, it doesn't hurt if it is used correctly.]

No comments: