April 9th, 2010

taiko reVision shime hamon

my trip to the Cambridge Zen center and toughts on desire

I attened the Dharma talk at the Cambridge Zen Center to go check the place out. I will say I think Zen Buddhism is not for me.

They had me don a robe. I over heard someone say, jokingly, "Ah guest robes, you have to guess-t who wore them last."

I will say I enjoyed the 5 minute meditation and I hope to incorporate that into my daily life. The talk afterwards proved to me that I didn't understand the word Karma at all. The jist I got is it was a combintion of destiny mixed with your own personal tendencies to do certain things, which I suppose could be called destiny, but it didn't seem to divorce from the idea of free will. There was then a question and answer period at the end. After reading some of the literature on the way home, however, I feel like asking a question was a bad thing.

Here's why I didn't much like it. The literature talk about the quieting of thinking. Asking questions is thinking. Answering them is thinking. Thinking about how to better practice Zen is thinking, but you should ask your teachers how to better practice, or how else do you get better? I'd just spend 30 minutes listening to talking, thinking about stories and hearing the zen master answer the questions. Now I beleive that this duality, these contradictions, these paradoxes are part of the core of being zen. Being able to accept them for what they are and their ability to exists at the same time. But at some point it just starts to feel like a game of mau. Here, I have a poem from the literature to demonstrate my point:

Buddha said all things have Buddha-nature.
Jo-ju said the dog has no Buddha-nature.
Which one is correct?
If you open your mouth, you fall into hell.
Clouds float up to the sky;
rain falls down to the ground.

I will give you another poem from a non-zen master, "Once upon a time, three, three, three, three, three, three, WHOP!"

I think I get as much wisdom from both.

I think I still want to check out some other flavors of Buddhism, because I can still get something out of it. I just feel the Zen part might have gone a little far.

But... on the way home I did some thinking. One of answer to the question was about determination. (and infact my follow up question was about it too.)

This got me thinking about taiko. If I really wanted to be an ensemble member, would the fact that at this point I have about 1% chance of that happening stop me? The man who runs over and over into a wall may not be smart, but he's proven he is committed to getting through that wall. Determination is an echo of desire. So if I really want this, then I can't let anything, including being told my chances are almost nil, stop me from continuing to fight for it. Situations may change which will change my chances and maybe, just maybe, if I try to fight for it I might learn what I really want and do not want. My whole life I've been taught that if you hit the wall with your fist and the fist bleeds, then it's time to look for a softer wall, but maybe this time, it's time to keep hitting.