You are not the boss – not the boss of "your" thoughts, not the boss of your feelings, not the boss of "your" reactions, not the boss of actions and reactions of others, not the boss of conditions inside or outside. You are not the boss of events close or far. And yet we often act and react as if we are the boss or should be, as if things and others should be as we wish or desire. Do you believe you are the boss? Please look closely, when things are not as you wish, do you react with anger, sadness, hatred and more? Please notice when this arises – and see what your skillful practice effort is. Do you notice suffering harming, the creating of suffering harming, right here, right now? If so, this is exactly where and when practice effort is called for, where Bodhidharma asks us to bring forth the not-at-peace heart mind, so as to set it at peace.
Saying I, often we lie.
We may not know that we lie, we may believe this “I” story as who we are. We may believe we must act on the basis of I - but this is not so!
This is not a matter of theory.
There is nothing wrong with the word I, with saying I - but holding onto “I” creates trouble, because of clinging to “I like, I do not like, I am, I am not, I want, I don’t want, I think, I feel, I believe, I don’t believe.” These clung to emotion-thoughts create troubles for others and for us. These clung to “I’s” perpetuate and solidify boundaries and duality, me and not-me. Believing these “I”s as truth - rather than as simple provisional terms - holding onto these - creates harming and suffering; these “I”s becomes a basis for reactive habits. When fulfilled or thwarted, “I” reactive habits are basis of hatred, anger, greed and delusions. This is not a matter of theory.
Holding to I, entangling in I, we miss this life intimacy right here; we miss our life. Holding to I, believing I, believing not-I, we miss what we can not miss, miss this “never failing manifestation of the (mysterious) truth of the awakened way.”
The Dalai Lama writes, “The innermost demon, the one anchored most deeply within us, is the notion of a separate self, the greediness of “me.” This profound ignorance carries with it all false views, of which attachment to self is most fundamental. Its two root errors - apprehension of self and self-love - are the worst we can have. They accompany and support one another; jealousy, covetousness, aversion and so many other painful states flow from them.” (p. 57 Essential Teachings)
Being peace is Buddha Dharma - being peace right here now.
When Huike comes to Bodhidharma, his request is “My heart/mind is not at peace, Please pacify it." Bodhidharma replied, "Bring me heart/mind, and I will pacify it."
Huike response is, "Although I've sought it, I cannot find it."
"There," Bodhidharma replies, "I have pacified your heart/mind."
Huike shows practice reminders and tasks - “My heart/mind is not at peace, please pacify it." When we notice not-at-peace, when we believe and feel not-at-peace, when we act out heart-mind not at peace, react based on not-at-peace, even believe that these reactions will bring peace, right there is our practice, right there we must do/be/make appropriate practice efforts. And in response, just as Bodhidharma encouraged Huike, “bring me your not-at-peace heart-mind and I will pacify it”, we too must clarify not-at-peace heart-mind in order to be at peace.
When you are not at peace, what is occurring? What are you believing? Knowing, believing knowing as reality, hinders being present. Not-knowing is a step in practice, in clarifying, experiencing and responding.
Being not-knowing, clarifying practice effort, is doing what is yours to do, not doing what is not yours to do, not-doing what is yours not-to-do. This is ongoing not-knowing practice. Other wise, we believe we are the boss of all sorts of beings, all sorts of conditions, the boss of all sorts of circumstances. You are not the boss – even of the arising-passing “I”.
It is not for us to speak of the faults of others, or fix others, and it is not for others to seek out, find and fix our faults, entanglements. It is not even for us to “fix’ our faults but simply clarify and be skillful-appropriate practice right here right now, compassionate responding in the midst of not-knowing.
Unfortunately, entangling in anger or hatred, entangling in I and not-I, often feels good. It seems to energize, enhance and strengthen self-righteousness and self-centeredness.
Anger and hatred can be like pumping up self. Experiencing, being present, zazening, we can sense how this occurs viscerally, physically, mentally and in other ways. Please look at your experience. Do you sometimes enjoy anger and hatred, just as you may enjoy various other addictive poisons? A recent commentary was titled, “Hatred Enhances Your Self-Esteem.” Unfortunately, harming suffering also results hatred - though in pursuing anger and hatred, the addictive pursuit may lead us to forget harming suffering.
Please look closely at anger or hatred when this arises for you. How do you practice when it arises? Do you feed and nurture arising reactions of anger and hatred, the various shadings of these thoughts, feelings and perceptions?
Personal anger, political hatred, economic, historical and ideological justifications, religious, racial, ethnic enmities, and their many variations and justifications are poisons which perpetuate suffering, even as we might enjoy them. Look closely. Are anger and hatred justified by what others have, what they have or will do, what they believe, who they are or other imaginings about them? Does Bodhisattva compassionate practice, our Bodhisattva practice, extend even to those who turn "against us, (even) become sworn enemies and (even those we believe have, will or may) abuse and persecute us?" Not denying or overlooking that they are sworn enemy, that they abuse and persecute us, what is extending compassionate practice?
Zazening/sitting is experiencing - forms of “I” arising are the opportunity to notice, to look at arising reactions, to notice believing and holding, and then do/be appropriate and skillful practice.
What “knowing” do you hold as self, as other?
And because of this knowing, what are you doing, what mind chatter follows, what emotion-thought reactions? Practice is settling right here. Practice is calling others by their true name, calling our self by our true name. What is their true name? What is your true name?
Holding to a fixed, permanent, separate self, to a separate others, to a fixed story, becomes suffering, becomes harming.
Holding to anger and hatred is shrieking with pain while we insist on drinking poison and spraying it on others. Please do not blind yourself and others.
There is no problem with I, and we make all sorts of problems with I; no problem with not-I – and we make all sorts of problems with dreams of not-I, dreams of other. When we make problems, when we discover problems, our practice is taking good care of them, appreciating them, serving them, liberating them. This is pervading everywhere, our traceless life. Being this continuing traceless awakening is our life, is who you are.
This perfect way excludes no difficulties. This perfect way knows no difficulties.
© 2019 Elihu Genmyo Smith