Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Smile 6/9/19



Non-attainment, Not-knowing 6/2/19



Mother 5/12/19



Sesshin Talks

Opening Remarks  5/22/19
Beings are Numberless  5/23/19
Delusionary Desires are Inexhaustible  5/24/19
Dharma Gates are Boundless  5/25/19
The Buddha Way is Unattainable  5/26/19




by Elihu Genmyo Smith

We are family – we are all family. This is ongoing intimacy. To paraphrase my teacher Soen Nakagawa Roshi, we are all members of the same nose-hole family.

Right now, you are prefect as you are. And so is every one.

Right now, you are in the perfect place as is. And so is every one.

Right now, you are doing exactly what you need to be doing.
And so is every one.

There is no where else at this very moment that you should be, nothing else that you should do.

Do you believe otherwise?

Do you believe otherwise about others?

Do you act, mentally, physically, otherwise?

Do you notice adding or holding “otherwise”, “otherhow”, “othershould” ?

This perfection practice is right now, this ongoing changing; including the self-addictions - fears, reactions and attachments, even hindrances - seemingly bumping up against this moment as is - this moment ongoing changing, impermanence.

Practice is acting appropriately with family – being-seeing differences in equality, equality intimacy in the midst of differences, the particularities of each family member as is now.
This manifests in knowing not to offer alcohol to an alcoholic even though they are family, feeding those who are hungry, not having meth or valuables around when a speed addict shows up, calling the police when someone is violently abusive, and calling paramedics when someone has a stroke or seizure with which we need help. This is being family.

We are all addicts, we are all self-addicted – in our particular ways, in some circumstances and at some time. The extent, variety and nature of self-entanglement and blindness varies greatly, as does holding to thoughts, believing, pursuing or rejecting feelings and so forth. Practice is the practice as this self-addicted family member, awakening is the awakening of this perfect family self-addict.

Just as addicts turn to their addictions rather than face fear, anxiety and other conditions, so we often turn to self-addictions out of fear, anxiety and conditions in the face of and in reactions to changing circumstances which are hard to tolerate, hard to experience. It may be hard to be present, experiencing, in the midst of ongoing changing life, even in zazen. And our practice is skillfully (or not so skillfully) working with these anxieties, these fears and whatever body-mind-universe arises, even that which leads us to want to turn to our particular addictions.

Noticing addictions arising, it is important to engage what is skillful in our life practice, our zazening, whether it is labeling thought, being breathing, experiencing, being koan, chanting, bowing – whatever particular practice supports and nurturance enables us to be right here, enables us to open to what is hard to be, rather than our particular addiction tendency, the reactive tendencies of turning from this moment and acting out addictions.

Impermanence, ongoing changing, means that life itself will offer opportunities of arising self-centered addictions, self-centered entanglements. Please be attentive as your life, how and when this arises in your life. What are your addiction reactions? What is your skillful practice effort?

Precepts in various forms help us notice, become sensitive to, practice with these self-addictions arising. Impermanence manifesting this moment, bodily, in and with others, in and with the world, this physical mental universe – these seem to call forth reactive habits of various sorts which are our particular holding self, our caught entangling self. These are our moment moment practice opportunities, practice effort supports in the face of the tendencies of suffering harming reactions.

The Buddha’s Awakening is discovering what always is so – in the midst of this ongoing changing, right now as is. Whether we acknowledge and experience this, or whether we miss this, refuse this that we are, even deny and disparage this, it is so. This “always so” is in the midst of, exactly, the particulars of this moment ongoing changing, in the midst of skillful and appropriate responses to this moment as it is right now. This is being not-two, being not-knowing.

A refusal to see this always-so and to see-be this ongoing changing as is right now can be described as “caught in self-centered dream,” as in the Four Practice Principles. This is not something one must believe, but a reminder – a reminder to notice what is so, to live-manifest our ongoing practice life. And we are supported and encouraged in this BECAUSE life circumstances denies and challenges self-centeredness.

Formulations as a description of “being human” such as the Five Skandhas (form, sensation, perception, discrimination, awareness) or the Six Sense Organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, mind), may lead us to misinterpret these formulations as a justification to focus on a narrow perspective of being human – as if the human is just within the bag of skin and bones, of body-mind. Other aspects of biology, language, culture and society also encourage this.

Practicing zazen, zazening in myriad forms, is being human interconnectedness and open flow of the inside outside universe, experiential senses which are this openness, the myriad dharmas right here that we are, this very body.

Ongoing changing is the awakened life as is, this form emptiness, this emptiness form, the ongoing opportunity of manifesting who what we are, myriad realms, myriad circumstances. It is the opportunity, so to speak, to flex our wings as the universe, this no-thing special. This includes all considerations, fears, attachments and so forth.

When caught, entangled and acting out and reacting in self-centered attachment and holding to what we believe, what we know and want, what we expect and hope for, we are shying away from this reality, this life we are; we may be blinded by fears and believed hindrances.

This universe right here is our opportunity of being not-knowing, going beyond knowing, taking the step off the 100-foot pole and living this universe.

Expansiveness is myriad directions, myriad dimensions, inside as well as outside – zazening is being who what we are - and we discover this zazening.

Your life right now is witnessing, is this moment impermanence, this marketplace reality we enter with open hands, open heart. It is the “ongoing dropping away of body-mind of self and others” that Dogen Zenji writes of, “no trace of realization remains and this traceless realization continues endlessly.”

This is living non-hindrance non-fear in the midst of impermanence, in the midst of ongoing changing, even in the midst of arising of beliefs about how this or that are hindrances; please notice when a sense of hindering circumstances and hindering people arises for you, when this is believed by you, is a source of reactive habits for you.

What are our reactions to events and people that seem to be hindering our life, hindering me, my, I? What is hindered? How to be this hindering moment, zazening in the midst of hindrance?

We may only experience this non-hindrance, non-fear, when we have engaged in extended practice; it may even seem that this is only accessible in the ongoing activities of practice. Truly, this can’t be missed; nevertheless - though this can’t be missed, we must experience this for our self in order to manifest and nurture this always-so life we truly are.

Our practice effort is necessary as a result of our tendencies to focus on likes and dislikes, focus on and believe the various forms of self-centeredness.

Nothing is lacking. Yet for most of us most of the time, we miss this that we are, this right here, believing and acting as if this moment there is something lacking.

During zazen, especially in sesshin, Soen Roshi often led us in an exercise together - standing up from zazen, lifting our arms overhead and then lowering them, making large circles while chanting, “All is revealed as it is now; all is realized as it is now; all is enlightened as it is now.”

Please live this revealed life, be this realized being that you are, manifesting the enlightened way.

© 2019 Elihu Genmyo Smith