07 December 2011

Admirable Companionship And Then Some

I wish I could begin to convey the overwhelming sense of pride and gratitude I feel when I consider the members of my sangha.

We just finished up five days of sesshin.  Everyone there did his or her level best.  They all took time out of their schedules and money out of their pockets to open themselves up to a schooling in the Dharma, whether the schooling came as a sore rump, stiff legs, drowsiness or a seemingly incessant parade of thoughts and emotions, or whether it came as a poignant dokusan encounter, an insight embedded in a teisho, a deep samadhi in the middle of the night, or a line in a chant taking up residence in the body-mind in a new way.  Round after round, I watched them settle back onto their cushions and mats to do what they needed to do.  Day in and day out, they threw themselves into practice as best they could.

These are everyday people.  They aren't some trippy "Zen-types." They have relationships, kids, the stresses of aging and job loss, mortgages and car payments.  They ranged in age from 23 to 73.  To see them on the street you would have no clue that they practiced Zen, and, to my mind, that's just how it should be.  I couldn't imagine a group of practitioners with less Zen stink about them.

I can honestly say that my practice is richer because of them.   I can honestly say that my practice is better because of them.  They have absolutely no idea just how much they give me without knowing they're giving me anything at all.  If I were to approach them and thank them personally for that, I'm not sure they would know how to respond (I know I don't know how to respond when they thank me for my "work" in helping their practice along; what are they talking about?).

"Sesshin" sometimes gets translated as "touching" or "unifying the heart-mind," but I refuse to believe that this refers to a personal, private heart-mind or something along those lines.  There is but one heart-mind that beats and breathes and moves through all of us.

I once told someone that while I kind of grasped the idea all along, I never experienced communion until my first sesshin.  Would that all could taste and see just how good it truly is!

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