Leaping Beyond One and Two

This evening our Benevolent Street Zendo kicks off with a sit and a Dharma talk. We’ll introduce the liturgy next week…

It’s all very exciting. BSZ is the ninth sitting group started within the embrace of Boundless Way Zen. Six of the groups are in Massachusetts, one in Maine, one in Connecticut and now one in Rhode Island.

My old friend and occasional co-conspirator on the Zen way, Sevan Ross, describes the practice of his community in Chicago as offering “the entire Harada-Yasutani koan curriculum, resting on a Soto Zen meditation base. Our community is the spiritual home to a variety of sincere practitioners, both lay and ordained.” That’s our plan for our community, as well…

As such, today I find my thoughts turning to the Zen way, or rather the Zen ways. Most mornings I look through a half dozen blogs that I really like. And this morning I got a major payoff reading Dosho Port’s Wild Fox Zen blog.

In recent postings Dosho has addressed a number of confusing points in Zen practice. He addressed the general necessity of practicing with others. He gave (with reference to another teacher I admire, Barry Magid), a very good description of the range with which the term shikantaza is understood, with profound pointers to what I think is most useful.

And today’s entry was a consideration of the term enlightenment as it is used within Zen.

I believe Dosho understands the great matter. And expresses his understanding with subtlety and grace…

And if you want a sense of what one finds at the heart of our Boundless Way practice as it will be presented at Benevolent Street, you can do a lot worse than reading Dosho Port.

With a caveat here and there.

For instance, from my perspective, Dosho appeals a tad too much to the great master Dogen as definitive.

If one is seeking guidance, there is no doubt that Dosho, his teacher Dainin Katagiri, and our shared ancestor, Dogen, are wonderful guides.

But none of them are God, none infallible. None, not even Dogen, gets it right every time.

My father used to say “I have to pee. James, go to the bathroom for me.” He never got tired of the joke. But there is a deeper spiritual teaching here. No one, not even Dogen, not even Hakuin, can wake up for you.

Each, each has bits and pieces of mistake clinging too them.

So, we need to be careful when reading the old teachers, or, for that matter, as we encounter the living ones…

It is all part of the deal. We don’t do it alone. No one else can do it for us. And, when we describe it, no matter how eloquently, we’ll screw it up…

As one teacher put it, you open your mouth and you’ve made your first mistake. And, as another said, of course, you have to speak…

So, there is a method in all this madness.

And it isn’t all that hard…

I suggest checking in with these teachers, and others, particularly in the flesh living ones, get your practice on target, sit a lot, open your heart and mind.

And, for yourself, leap beyond one and two.

Find it.

I suggest you won’t regret it.

The old teachers promise it’s worth it.

I encourage you to check and see if you agree…

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04878684373898294730 Dosho Port

    Dead on, old buddy, except for what you say about me! Katagiri told me of an argument he once had with Maezumi when they were both young priests at the LA temple. Maezumi criticized Katagiri for relying too much on Dogen, for talking about him too much. Katagiri’s response was something like, “Well, anyway, Dogen-zenji say….” Katagiri then leaned his head back with a big laugh on himself. Me too!I’d love to be there tonight for your opening! Deepest best wishes – may all your students take up your advise and verifying it and/or go beyond it themselves for the sake of the truth!Dosho

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03320860122104064884 James

    Thanks, dear one, and you can bet somewhere along the line this evening I’ll be quoting Dogen…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12692982208236857534 The Eclectic Cleric

    You mentioned that there is a group meeting here in Maine, but when I looked at the Boundless Way Zen homepage I couldn’t find a listing for it. Can you point me to further enlightenment?Tim

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for such a great post. I’m a regular reader just chiming in. Oh, where did the art work for this post come from?

  • kate

    Dawn Redwood Zen in Portland, ME:http://www.a2u2.org/zen-community.aspx

  • Anonymous

    Who is the artist of the drawing of the sleeping sitter?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03320860122104064884 James

    Thanks, Kate, for the pointer for Tim. I’ll also make sure he gets a direct email with the link.And, I’m so sorry, Anonymous, I found the picture through google images, but no longer recall what search terms I used. The image, I’m sure you know, plays with Hakuin’s famous self-portrait…