On the phone, at a gas station, in our dreams
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Adam Fisher is a writer and house painter who lives in New York City.
You always liked it short and sweet. Here it is: Don’t sleep and sigh and move around on your cushion in the zendo. It disturbs others, and is conspicuous and self-centered.
To a student with years of experience in spiritual discipline, the suggestion that psychotherapy might be a useful adjunct can seem awful, backward, and possibly traitorous.
The artist speaks of the “muse” and the musician says “I was hot,” but in their hearts there is only mysterious joy: I was present at a beautiful event and yet it was not “I.”
I love you. It really means something, but what it means cannot be said. It is, for those of us who practice Zen, a koan, an insoluble riddle. Perhaps a particularly tricky koan.
There are those who say miracles are part of the good news, but I am not so sure that what they are referring to is actually so good. In hard times, many look for good news or seek out the bad — the former to disperse or suppress the latter or the latter to shore up and elevate the former.
Better your own Dhamma, / however weak, / Than the Dhamma of another, / however noble. / Look after your self, / and be firm in your goal.
The original meaning of Buddha is liberator from attachment or self, but most people think of a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha [historical]. If you are liberated from everything, then you become a Buddha. Much better than a statue.
Disconnection doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel right somehow. It feels like a jacket that’s just a bit snug at the armpits and waist. Everything’s fine except. . . . Except trust feels better than distrust. Connection feels better than disconnection.
On September 19, 1981, at the northernmost reach of Laughing Snake Mesa, a single Navajo or perhaps Hopi Indian stood with a straight back and recited the true words that had come to him from his tradition.
Cults and mystics, mystics and cults — the two of them entered my head the other day like a happy couple holding hands along a dappled springtime path, necks bending slightly now and then as if to pass some secret word, some shared hope, some grinning recollection. Cults and mystics, mystics and cults.
In the circles where he’s known, it is said that Soen Roshi never smiles, yet, however far-seeing and important those circles, I know it isn’t so. Once, during Rohatsu,* I went to dokusan (private interview) with Soen. I was in a volcanic mood, aimlessly enraged. I did not do the bows required by the situation. I did not say my name or practice. I just shut the door behind me, turned around, and sat on the floor in front of him — him so small and looking.
If the discipline is prayer, pray! If meditation, meditate! Be constant. Doing — over the seconds and minutes and hours and days and months and years — has one singular and amazing advantage over thinking: for once there is the possibility that the student will know what he is talking about.