Saturday, February 25, 2012

True Self in Hard Times


During the week, a few friends have called or sent emails expressing concern for me. How am I doing? How am I holding up?

Maybe I should be feeling a lot more miserable than I do. Somehow life doesn't seem so bad. As I said to Chris last night, "Hard times, not bad times."

Or, to put it the way Zen Master Seung Sahn often said, "A bad situation is a good situation, a good situation is a bad situation."

A plane flight can go quite smoothly, but when you fly over Chicago, you're going to get bumped around, and that's what it has been like. Money is getting tight after several months with no employment, my self-employment is not yet enough to keep my head above water, the zen center is also struggling financially, and things have been tense at home. That's all true.

I have no particular preference about the emotions that go through my heart. Sadness comes, happiness comes, even emotions for which there are no names. They all pass through. And the business of life -- diapers, meals, looking for a job, organizing a budget -- is simply a matter of action. Do it. Am I supposed to feel this way or that about it? Bah! At any given moment, I might be feeling lots of things about it. But if I want the laundry to get dry, all I have to do is hang it up.

And the wind has been blowing across Deming lately, so the clothes flap and twist a lot on that line. Do they resent this?

[The] true human is always present. Body and mind act together in everyday life, while eating, on the way to school, while working, in bed. "The true self" lives in these activities. Because we are not aware of this "true self" we cannot save ourselves. Once one becomes aware of the "true human" and gets hold of it, life becomes simple... If one looks...at one's own heart and allows it to become one with the world, without greed or illusion, then one finds one's true self and absolute independence.

If someone has realized the free state of mind, which evolves out of the absolute (mu) without attachment, I ask that person to look closely at our contemporary society and allow his or her true creative self to have an effect. Master Rinzai says: "If one is master of oneself everywhere and has realized one's true self, then one stands on the ground of reality." The "master" is nothing else but our creative subjectivity. This is the true human without position or name. ... The "true self" does not exist outside of everyday life, it has its job in our everyday life.


Ah, Rinzai style teaching. These are the words of Hozumi Gensho roshi. My own school expresses this in different words, and we don't do "mu" practice like they do in the Rinzai shu, but the essential point is consistent. "Don't-know mind" is the true self; it is dynamic, alive, and creative all by itself. What we contrive in our imaginations is not it; it does itself. It isn't having a "good time" or a "bad time."

What time is it now? Time to take down the laundry.

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