Joyful Mind, Nurturing Mind, Great Mind: Sesshin Talk

Above is Walden Pond in March, 2010. 

Here’s a sesshin talk, wrapping up the study of Dogen’s Instructions for the Cook. Click here (then View and Video once the Webex player gets rolling). 

Here’s how I summarize the text:

  • Allow yourself to be polished by others through detailed consultation; 
  • sort rice and sand – sacred and mundane – in the midst of work itself; 
  • lift a single vegetable and making a golden body; intimately consider the details of your work; 
  • take full responsibility; 
  • know the one flavor of zen through the abundance of blessings shared in community with  joyful, nurturing and big minds.

The Deeply Settled Heart: Home-based Practice Period Invitation
On Receiving Inka Shomei from James Myoun Ford Roshi
Dogen Did Not Practice Shikantaza and Even Had a Gaining Idea
Practicing Through Snow and Cold (or Whatever Afflictions May Visit)
  • Al

    Dosho,I'm re-posting this from the last thread."“Practice-enlightenment” without a breakthrough is usually “practice-delusion” just like breakthrough without practice is reifying some experience. "I suppose the real question is then, how do those who practice Shaikantaza follow these instructions to prevent "practice-delusion"?Given that shikantaza is a practice of sorts, what is it about the shikantaza practice of one who has a breakthrough vs. a shikantaza practioner who doesn't?Does this mean there is a right and wrong way to 'just sit'? If one starts practice out of the model of wanting to destroy 'self-hatred', how does one come to practice with a more open heart?Regards,Al

  • steve

    Al,In my view you and your may 14 cohorts have asked an unanswerable question. There are many varieties of these questions – Is it a wave or is it a particle?-are you saved or are you damned?-from your view point looking at the side of a cup how do you know it is a cup?-can you drive the car to Texas just because you read the car owner's manual?There is nothing wrong in asking your question of course but it is unanswerable because of your point of view which seems from here to be relentlessly Cartesian – thinking therefore being; what you get is subjective mental representations on the one hand and a profound skepticism -even paranoia about being fooled by the world on the other hand. This view leaves you deeply stuck in your own subject/object dualism. To return to the car analogy you become skillful at understanding the drivers manual but you never get to try to Texas. Fundamentally you can't read the manual -think about driving, evaluate driving, analyze driving and drive the car at the same time. To get to Texas you actually have to drive the car. When you are driving the car you actually have to drive not think about driving.What is so disabling about this view is you become the eternal novice -what my Mpls friend Joanne -a therapist – calls the "Eternal Puer"; you are always trying to "keep your options open", you never make a commitment and avoid your own freedom.To paraphrase Dietrich Bonhoeffer: you worry about boarding the wrong train, and when you do get on the train you run along the corridor in the other direction. You are always split into two Cartesian parts.I recommend changing your starting place. Give up Descartes knowing/being and take up Heidegger's epistemology doing/being where you are being-in-the-world, your hammer is "ready-to-hand"; you and the hammer and the world are already connected; you don't have to think about it unless something is out of place. In the car analogy, you are free to drive to Texas or anywhere else. You are free to choose.You free yourself to sit or not sit, to kensho or not kensho, to practice shiakantaza or not; you are free of your permanent observer status and the skepticism that goes with it -or not; you can try to kill Dogen's instructions with Descartes "logic" or not. Action removes the doubt that theory cannot solve. Thoughts?