Editorial – Decembre 2018 – Reflection on the Practice of Zen !
« The peak reached
Lonely I stand
The winds of autumn. »
~~ Master Ryokan
Reflection on the Practice of Zen !
Now it’s autumn with its gorgeous colours. The earth is covered with dead leaves, the soil for new roots. Impermanence doesn’t really do anything new, yet doesn’t
stop for an instant. This is the teaching of emptiness, where beings and forms manifest, the immobile Presence, beyond the world, where everything appears and disappears without trace.
“Without beginning or end” wrote Master Dogen, proclaiming the Truth which breathes at each moment, in each cell of our bodies and in our own heart. Truth which creates itself and reveals itself as “pure consciousness” in our goalless meditation. Isn’t zen just awakening to this?
To know this awakening implies letting go of the idea that life has to be a particular way, to plunge into the mystery of the present moment, to consider gain and loss with equanimity, just marvelling at what is here where we are and uniting ourselves with the mystery of the silent Presence.
There is no path to awakening. The path is itself the goal and at each moment we walk, we experience, we practise, not to reach a goal , but to collect what presents itself to us, without choice, without seizing or rejecting.
If Master Ryokan talks of reaching the summit, it is to say that he is not separated from the present moment and all that is there. The present moment is the summit! Everything is contemplation in the pure autumn sky.
We never reach the summit, the heart of our heart, by some path or other. There is no summit that we can reach. The way, the practice, is just to go one step at a time, whether large or small, pleasant or painful, to arrive , alone, in the infinite space of Presence, the sky of the seasons of Impermanence.
This perpetual and unpredictable impermanence is difficult to live and impossible for the illusory me to control. Obstinately seeking the happiness that would make this world a paradise, reaching out for a definitive awakening, the me is constantly seeking to avoid the truth of impermanence.
Those who are aware of this evasion try, by adopting a spiritual quest, to find an answer, a path. Zen teaches that we must forget the need for an answer and the path itself in the space it holds beyond language and thought. Thought and language which, however clear they may be, can never grasp the Truth which reveals itself to a mind free of thought.
The truth of awakening dissolves the idea of separation which the me constantly maintains, but doesn’t end this me, as past conditioning is always potentially active and our karmic memories can reactivate if they are not observed, accepted and liberated. How can we see our dark places if we don’t bring them into the light? The hardest thing is to recognize all the facets of our personality, particularly the most dark and selfish. That’s the work! It starts in the presence of simply sitting without a goal, consciously welcoming, where the me disappears in the space of silence, where our vision can be clear. Beware! The me will constantly seek to collect the fruits of practice, maintaining its illusory existence with our doubts and fears.
To abandon oneself body and mind to this sitting, the zazen of the buddhas and patriarchs, this is the path of the heart which alone will lead us to the summit of our own Heart.