21 June 2011

To Boldly Go

During a sesshin teisho recently we got to hear a bit from Zenkei Shibayama's A Flower Does Not Talk.  I had seen the title on the center library's shelf any number of times but never thought to take a look.  I'm grateful to have been introduced to it now.

There's a passage in the book that I found particularly butt-kicking:
Near the Monastery there was Bukai Roshi's private house, which had been rented out for some time.  When the house was vacated, I was told by Bukai Roshi, my teacher, to go and clean it.
     The house as evacuated by the residents was in a terrible condition.  Somehow I managed to clean the rooms, but when I came to the toilet, the condition was even worse.  Besides, it happened to be a very hot day in August, and I could not help hesitating.  Unknowingly, my attitude was as if about to touch something dreadful.
     I was not aware that Bukai Roshi, my teacher, was behind me.  Tucking up his clothes and bare footed, he pushed me away without a word, took the damp cloth from my hand and began to clean the dirty toilet.  I stood aghast for a second.  But the next moment I jumped at him, took back the damp cloth, and started to rub the toilet literally forgetting myself.  The Roshi, looking down at me for a little while, said in a quiet tone, "With a damp cloth in your hand, you are still unable to be one with it, being disturbed by the dirty and the clean.  Aren't you ashamed of your training?"  I shall never forget how shameful I was at his words.
How many times do I hesitate in ways that betray my own training?  What distinctions do I come up with to give myself an excuse for not diving right in?

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