Saturday, May 25, 2013

Still sitting

 When I think of man having two natures, I sometimes conceive of this idea of man getting from one nature — this lower nature I inhabit — to the other one, as though it were a journey. It's forgotten that these two natures simultaneously inhabit the manifestation of consciousness, and that they aren't mutually exclusive.

In this way, there are manifestations — I usually refer to them as objects, events, circumstances, and conditions — and a relationship to them. On this level, the relationship is formed by my personality, my intellect, my opinions, my emotional reactions. No matter what the objects, events, circumstances, and conditions are, everything that "I" is is attached to them. It can't help interpreting them or trying to assign meaning to them.

 Yet the objects, events, circumstances, and conditions do not have my opinions. They don't have my intelligence, my awareness, or anything else. They just are. They are, in other words, objective. The entire manifestation of reality and the Dharma is objective. Each "unique subjective" — each manifestation of "I" — is an individual encounter with that objectivity. The responsibility of material embodiment is to manifest this, in the guise of what we call the ego.

Yet in the second nature, the unique subjective is surrendered. Having firmly committed myself to the inhabitation, interpretation, and understanding of the material, I must now dare to move past that into unknown territory, in which my own ego existence is uncertain. Paradoxically, the material manifestation of ego exists side-by-side with my higher nature; and in this higher nature, none of the things that take place in the ego are going on.

In a certain sense, there is nothing happening here. Everything is still happening; yet in an inner sense, there is nothing at all happening. Things are quite still. There's a separation between all of the activity that is still taking place in ego, and this still quality that is connected to an inner expression of Truth.

In this place, there is a quality of waiting. Perhaps one discovers an intimate contact with this place; if so, one decides quite gently and easily that one could inhabit that; and one just sits down there and waits.

The outer action of Zazen, that beautifully disciplined form, is nothing more than a mirror of this action, expressed externally. The action is to go there inside and sit. One sits because one sits; one doesn't sit for any particular reason, or to get anywhere. One just sits there. There is no specific reason to sit or not sit, but one sits. We have heard Zen masters say such things; yet we attach them to the outer action of sitting, rather than seeing that there is a place inside in which this action is undertaken — no matter what else one is doing. One can be walking up a hill or driving a car, and still sitting. One can be yelling at one's child and still sitting.

This is because to be still sitting is to be still sitting anywhere.

This activity may be unfamiliar, because the lower parts are accustomed to the idea that they ought to be doing something. They need to be allowed to do that, and not interfere with sitting. It's a most peculiar thing; on the one hand, everything is going on. On the other hand, there's nothing happening.

Practicing in this way, one may eventually begin to find that aside from the definite necessities, there is no need for a lot of the other external activities. One can just be there. Being there is enough. There is no need to make things or undertake artificial entertainments. It's a most curious situation.  Typically, it makes the lower parts uncomfortable, because they discover that they are quite satisfied, but still think they ought to be "doing" something.

But they quiet down when they see that things are just fine as they are.

When this state is available, everything is completely sufficient. I remember my teacher, Betty Brown, telling me about a day like this that she had a year or so before she died. She found it quite astonishing; everything was completely sufficient, and there was absolutely no need to do anything. Her children and her family were over to visit her, and she was completely contained, sitting within herself, not needing or wanting anything — completely invested and satisfied with the simple truth of everything that was around her.

Any day can have moments where this becomes more apparent. But only if one comes into relationship with the inward flow that is attracted by the action of an inward sitting.

 May your soul be filled with light.

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