27 May 2011

From the No Comprendo Lexicon: "Training"

With every breath and every motion new dharma gates open wide.  I have vowed to penetrate them all.

It's no small task.  Everything that happens – everything from first waking up in the morning to how I leave the bathroom to what I have for breakfast to what job I tackle first to how well I do that job and how thoroughly and how attentively it is accomplished to how I relate to those I work with to the thoughts that fill my head while doing any of the above to how I comport my body and give it appropriate exercise and rest to how I am with the kids, the ex, my colleagues, my neighbors and on and on and on – everything is a wide open field for practice. 

A Zen student has more than ample opportunity to work out what needs working out, because everyone has more than ample opportunity to work out what needs working out.  It's the nature of our life.  A Zen student may be more willing than others to enter into the field of life, but a Zen student doesn't need something the field of life isn't already bringing forth by itself in abundance.

So after a bunch of years at this I'm still rather in the dark when I hear references to "training." I don't mean "training" as in "training to play the han" or "training to be timer," "doing marathon training" or "training to work the donut fryer." I get that.  I mean "training" as in "We have you down for 8 days of training," or "Training is $15.00 a day, so that'll be $120.00 total," or "You're a Zen student in training," and "Maybe the teacher is doing this as a way of training us" or "The teacher is always training us with his/her actions."

It's the amorphous, blank check, indecipherable nature of this "training" that confuses me.  If I don't know what it is, if I don't know who is doing it to me, and if I can't tell whether it's going on or what the stakes are, is it training?  Really?

So the other day I was painting with a fellow resident, and he had pushed too hard with too much paint on the roller, leaving thick lines of paint from the end of the roller on the walls of the room he had just finished.  Seeing this as I was doing the trim with a brush, I called him back to the room, had him roll out the lines (not to punish him; there was only one roller in use, and he had it in hand), and then we checked the walls together to make sure we got them all.  Correcting his mistake, he offered that maybe he had had too much paint on the roller or had pushed too hard.  Done.

If "training" is solving a problem together, I'm all on board. I have every confidence that my painting buddy will be a better painter in the future and perhaps a bit more attentive in other areas of his life as well.

But if "training" is just a mind game added on to the already wonderful complexity of our life – as if the wonderful complexity of our life wasn't already good enough – then I'm left utterly clueless.

I'm sure it's just me, because others seem to think this kind of "training" is just fine.

I'm still confused.  I just don't know.

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