15 September 2011

A School Few Care to Learn In

In Some Fruits of Solitude, William Penn characterizes solitude as "a School few care to learn in, tho' None instructs us better."  Had he known of zazen – certainly one of the most solitary enterprises around – he might well have said the same about it.

Never are my defilements more obvious to me than when I'm on the mat.  Never do I touch my heart's peace more profoundly than when I'm on the mat.  Never is the path clearer to me than when I'm on the mat.  Better instruction is not to be had.

On the mat, it's just me: no circle of friends, no family, no profession, no story line, no personal past, no anticipated future.  On the mat, there's no Buddha, no Dharma, no Sangha. 

On the mat, it's so just me that even that "me" becomes too much, and an even deeper solitude occurs, selfless and empty, yet filled without remainder with the resplendent nature of all beings.  (I'm not sure whether Penn knew of that solitude, but if he had, he would certainly have sung its praises, too, perhaps even more loudly.)  Better practice is not to be found.

Back to the mat, then, back to the mat!  Back to that unsurpassed solitude, the wellspring of the supreme abiding, the gateway to dukkha's end.

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