In the commencement, the Buddha wasn’t composing stuff like that and it had more effect in those days—there were lots more people who seemed to be doing a lot better in their Zen Meditation with fewer diversions—things were simpler. People used to just cogitate and heedfully aurally perceive the construal of the words. To come to a retreat merely out of curiosity shows a lack of faith in yourself and in the practice; it would be impossible for you to get good results.
Generally, people enjoy living in the world of confusion for the reason that it is much more entertaining. So long as your mind is filled with greed, hatred, or ignorance, you will be immersed in vexation and suffering. There are two types of food for the body: nutrition and contact. Later when your Zen Meditation is not as pleasurable, you may try to analyze how you sat so well that one time and why you are so uncomfortable now.
Disassociate yourself from the part of your body that is painful. Trouble can only develop in a state of discrimination. The more you go after it, the more it eludes you. The more you want benefits from Zen, the further you will be from obtaining them. Practice is a foolish endeavor, like climbing a crystal mountain covered with oil.
Zen Koan: “Calling Card” Parable
Keichu, the great Zen teacher of the Meiji era, was the head of Tofuku, a cathedral in Kyoto. One day the governor of Kyoto called upon him for the first time.
His attendant presented the card of the governor, which read: Kitagaki, Governor of Kyoto.
“I have no business with such a fellow,” said Keichu to his attendant. “Tell him to get out of here.”
The attendant carried the card back with apologies. “That was my error,” said the governor, and with a pencil he scratched out the words Governor of Kyoto. “Ask your teacher again.”
“Oh, is that Kitagaki?” exclaimed the teacher when he saw the card. “I want to see that fellow.”
Buddhist Insight on Understanding and Awakening
The uncontrolled harm of things is limitless. Take a few minutes off your daily chores, sit down in a quiet place, and be mindful of your thoughts. That doesn’t mean that we have to go off in a hermitage, but our household life, our driving, our interpersonal relations, they are our considerate practice, and they require some working with. She wrote this note after a couple of days of trying meditation awareness. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman and American vipassana teacher Jack Kornfield write in Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart,
In spiritual life there is no room for compromise. Awakening is not negotiable; we cannot bargain to hold on to things that please us while relinquishing things that do not matter to us. A lukewarm yearning for awakening is not enough to sustain us through the difficulties involved in letting go. It is important to understand that anything that can be lost was never truly ours, anything that we deeply cling to only imprisons us.