Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Intimacy Practice by Elihu Genmyo Smith

Intimacy practice - though fundamentally not needed, yet there are undefiled efforts. Despite intimacy being the most close, being what ‘ought’ to be most comfortable because it is most close - it is our life – sometimes to us it seems not to be so. Sometimes, we have to make efforts, provisional efforts, to manifest what does not need extra effort. When we are blind to what we are, then what we do or believe in this blindness may compound delusive habits to cause harm suffering. Our nothing needed, nothing lacking life then requires provisional efforts, a “practice”, to relieve suffering harming, relieve delusions

Bodhisattva's Vow by Torei Zenji, begins "When I a student of the Way look at the real form of the Universe". The "Way", the "Dharma", is this Buddha life, this on-going changing that is Buddha’s teaching. Our life opportunity is being “students” of this Dharma Way life, manifesting this Dharma Way – though many of us do not know this and actually insist that our life, our Way, is something else. What does your life manifest? What is your life about?

Looking at the real form of the Universe is zazening. Zazening, being upright penetrating life, we see/be the real form of the Universe. Is this your life? Is this other than your life?

"All is the never failing manifestation of the mysterious truth of the Awakened life", of the Tathagatha, the "thus-come”, “thus-gone,” this thusness that we are. What is Tathagatha thusness? What is not Tathagatha thusness? What is “our” thusness?

What is this looking at real form? Not looking at something else, something outside. That kind of looking has inherent pitfalls, subject-object assumptions, and detours us. Looking at the real form of the Universe is zazening. What is zazening? Looking is not doing something extra, something special. It is this moment being human – nurturing and being nurtured.

We sometimes say, "I do zazen." That is not quite accurate, though when we begin formal practice, and for some while after, we often describe it as "I do zazen", just as much of our life is lived as if I do “things” to “others”, and “others” do things to me. At times we may even seemingly “do” to “internal self” in the form of doing to or with feelings, habits and reactions.

Some of this is a result of a dualistic language of subject-verb-object, which reflects these beliefs and assumptions and at the same time reinforces them. Using this language, believing this, becoming trapped by that language perspective, the language structure creates and maintains this way of subject-object believing functioning.

The more we enter zazen, the more zazen zazens us, the more zazen zazens zazen. Of course, saying “zazen zazens zazen” is clumsy, saying “more” is extra - and we may not quite get it, this may not be clear. Though there is effort, saying “more” may lead us to believe there is “more” or “less”, and that more or less is only dependent upon our effort. I would rather say zazening.

Zazening is this practice life; zazening isn't limited to sitting. Zazening, we zazen sitting, we zazen walking, we zazen talking to people, we zazen the difficulties we have with a car, reactions to and judgments about other drivers or co-workers, the conditions of the road and world. Zazening being caught up, zazening even fearing, angering, lusting and deluding.

Intimacy embracing of course includes difficulties of talking, difficulties of other’s behavior, difficulties of our behavior, “difficulties” experiencing - just this real form of the Universe. This real form of the Universe always is our life, no need to say “real” - except that we miss it when "caught in self-centeredness", miss this with all sorts of consequences.

As Dogen Zenji writes in Shobogenzo Immo, “If you think to attain thusness, you are already a person of thusness. Already being a person of thusness, why worry about thusness?”

At times it is necessary to make certain efforts because of arising circumstances, because of condition-universe arising, because of arising self-centered caught-up habits and reactions. Making provisional efforts is zazening our life practice and specifically when sitting Zen, specifically in penetrating Zen (sanzen) life; appropriate and skillful effort zazening. Zazening can be eating, cleaning, sleeping, physical or emotional pain, resistance to certain others or events, reactions to emotions or thoughts or the myriad forms manifesting, this dharma-universe that we live.

In sitting and throughout life practicing we know when something is hard to be, when reacting and even believing "I don't want this, this hurts me too much, I don't feel like this." Physical, mental, emotional, all sorts of states arise as present moment, as this many forms life.

It is important for us to be clear on efforting practice, what sort of specific practice effort supports embracing, being this intimacy, embracing what is physically emotionally painful to see-be.

Whether aching, a pain, suffering, the moment condition is just this moment condition body, ‘my’ body-mind, whether an emotional state, a set of memories and feelings. Being so, at times it is as if we have to direct our energy to include it, open up to include it, despite this already being “included”, despite “we” are already “included” as this.

We of course can allow breathing to direct us, to include this; we could allow blood pumping, experiencing, to extend here where this already extends. Even though it is extending here, sometimes it isn't extending here. Whether fearful, rejecting, angering and the various other ways that it is difficult to be the intimacy of this; of knee-muscle-pain or this internal organ fear, this condition inside, outside, others saying or doing things - this hurt of someone said something to me, hasn't said something to me or has done something, this anger reaction, this greed need, this prideful reaction, this egoistic delusion.

Breathing can be one way to seemingly extend our self to what we always are. Of course we are not really extending “our” self but this is a provisional way of sensing, noticing and experiencing what we are, experiencing that is but is otherwise missed.

Fundamentally, experiencing - and there is nothing special or extra to do because experiencing is our life, you don't “do” experiencing; when "I'm experiencing" we are already adding a story of this "I" and making experiencing into some other object. Intimacy is just this, knowing intimacy, not knowing intimacy, avoiding intimacy, covering-up intimacy. And yet, we can miss this experiencing we are, so at times we must “do” experiencing to be experiencing.

No matter the abundance or scarcity of our life, please use it well responding to circumstances and conditions.

Responding to the 6th Ancestor’s question, “Does it depend upon practice and enlightenment?,” Nanyue said, “It is not that there is no practice and enlightenment. It is just that they cannot be defiled.”

The Sixth Ancestor said, “Just this nondefilement is what Buddhas have maintained and transmitted. You are thus. I am thus. Ancestors in India are thus.

Undefiled, to simplify, is this forgetting self life; practice–enlightenment is not self practice, self enlightenment – it is nondefilement practice, nondefilement enlightenment.

I've mentioned a few ways that we can provisionally see the need for and make the effort of presence, of zazening, of being the real form of the Universe, the real form life we are - which is exactly form, exactly empty. And yet, and yet, we find ways to avoid this - we avoid this, avoid thus-come/thus-gone, and miss the life that we are - which is why zazening is so vital. Please do not avoid your life, please do not miss your life – take good care of this life we share.

© 2017 Elihu Genmyo Smith