Monday, March 19, 2018

This Life 3/18/18

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sesshin Dharma Talks: Opening Remarks 3/8/18; Hindrance and Fear 3/9/18; Life, Death 3/10/18; Closing Remarks 3/11/18

This Moment

by Elihu Genmyo Smith

This moment is your life, your opportunity.

This moment is the whole universe - just now. You call it various names, may imagine encountering self or other; if not believing or holding to those names and stories you can use them freely without hindrance or fear.

This moment is the only time when-where fear might arise. Despite the Heart Sutra stating “no hindrance and therefore no fear” – it may be that in your life fear arises, hindrance seems to occur. What is your fear practice?

Living ongoing changing, naturally we know life; nevertheless we may discover ways we insist life is not-Ok, likewise seemingly “naturally.” We may fear believed things, forms, dharmas - names we call this life and reactions we cling to “about” this moment circumstances. “Fear” may arise, but often, covering this fear is anger, greed or confusions reactiveness. The anger, fear and confusions may be the results of “bumping” into changing conditions, conditions which seem to be unsatisfactory, suffering. These perceptions, beliefs and judgments can distance us and keep us from experiencing, even from experiencing visceral fear.

Do you notice “bumping” into “conditions”? What are reactions to the conditions you “don’t like”, or even do “like”? How do you face, embrace or practice with this reactiveness?

There is no general “hindrance” – there are only specific moments when we are hindered in the midst of ongoing changing. And yet, there may certainly be areas and tendencies of “being hindered.” What is being hindered? Who is being hindered? Is something we want or do not want hindering intimacy, functioning? What hinders seeing life clearly, what hinders being-responding this moment? Of course we can say that greed, anger, ignorance, self-centeredness attachment in many forms hinders – but it is always in the specifics manifesting, reactiveness arising, this moment – and right here is our practice opportunity.

Fortunately, we can discover zazening , the practice of embodying intimacy this moment, even this moment so-called hindrance; without holding to this moment, embody this changing that is life - thereby even embodying fear.

Fear can be seen as a form of arising Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to which we are all subject. This arises “from” unknown, sometimes as so-called “pasts”, which manifest as this body-mind moment, this samskara tendency. Some unknowns, “pasts”, are genetic, biological, psychological etc. tendencies manifesting in the midst of arising conditions; for some we may have “stories.”

Experiencing, zazening, is our opportunity to viscerally be this “fear PTSD” - to the extent that we can tolerate it, to the extent that the forms of experiencing and insight practice support us in being arising and skillfully responding - rather than entangling in reactive habits such as greed, anger. The fear PTSD may not be pleasant or easy. Unfortunately, some of us cannot tolerate even a little of this, being overwhelmed by sensations and forms of pain suffering, even overwhelmed by out-of-control reactiveness. Nevertheless, life-death is this great matter, the opportunity of awakening – and this requires our appropriate practice effort.

In one sense, sitting, zazening, is experiencing fear. And zazening can be an “antidote” for arising fear entangling, allowing arising-passing and non-entangling. There can develop the capacity for the fear to arise and pass, to be revealed as no-fear; for the fear to not elicit harmful suffering reactions.

And yet, self-centered tendencies and reactive habits “keep” arising. At times we “buy into them” - maybe because we believe it is easier than embodying this not-knowing intimacy fear. This moment fear may be beyond our tolerance; if so, do
what is necessary and skillful.

Fear manifests as many facets – at times we notice the visceral, at times the emotional, at times thoughts. These are interconnected; no matter on what we focus, “other” aspects are there, are effected, though possibly not noticed. Fear may manifest related to conditions right now or to dreams about what was or will be. However this is, this is our practice realm.

Fear does not have to “make sense;” often it does not. Therefore, the rational conviction about what will arise, or the precautions to prevent it, are of limited use and may themselves create suffering and fear.

Many people discover a basic fear of death, or fear of ceasing to be, ceasing to matter. Often this is “under the surface” of awareness and of self-centered entanglements. To support ongoing practice, we often chant, “life-death is of great importance (this great matter),…aspire to awaken, be aware…”

Practice is being real, being really what is so – even this moment entangling in dreams. What is “real” this moment? Is anything needed? Anything lacking?

What added judgments, beliefs and reactive likes and dislikes are you caught in this moment?

Do not be trapped even by “real.” Zazening is “going beyond” real – right here – in the midst of this, “like a dream, a flash of lightening, a bubble” - being real.

And so – “no-fear” - and in the midst of this, even as fear arises, exactly this moment zazening. “No-hindrance”, and all sorts of samskara hindrances arise, and with this, zazening experiencing, Bodhisattva responding opportunities.

Nagarjuna says, “The mind that solely sees the impermanence of this world of ongoing change is called bodhi-mind. …. Truly, when you see impermanence, self-centered mind does not arise, neither does desire for fame and profit, … practice the Way as if extinguishing a fire from your head; reflecting on the transiency of bodily life, practice diligently.” (Dogen in Gakudo-Yojinshu)

To adapt an ancient saying - because “all these thoughts-fears are not thoughts-fears, therefore they are called thoughts-fears. Why, Subhuti? Because past thoughts-fears are intangible, present thoughts-fears are intangible, future thoughts-fears are intangible.” Therefore, the Tathagata says “Abiding nowhere, heart-mind comes forth”

Be the Bodhisattva you are, being-seeing emptiness wisdom; without holding hindering oppositions, in this moment, relieving suffering; not-holding to fear, not-bound by delusionary thought, right here is nirvana.”

© 2018 Elihu Genmyo Smith