Still processing and digesting some of the always fresh and free insights of this Great Man. He has given the clearest sense of how meditation can truly be in yoga practice, or not, which seems to be more usual. He really sees through so much of the fluffy bullshit, and gets right to the sinews, in fact.
The esteemed author of the necessary Yoga Anatomy, Lesley Kaminoff, was back at ZCR for two days of his clear-eyed insight into the ways to find the heart of meditation — or, Zen — in yoga. I get his stuff about Ashtanga, and it’s all I need to know a little better about.
Once, when attending the 90-day intensive Winter Kyol Che, at Songgwang Sah, it was early in my work with Ashtanga, and I had obtained a single room and could do nearly all of the First Series in the two hours of dinner. I saw revolutions in sitting practice, as bows in Buddha Halls has transformed into yoga asana wearing nothing but a pair of panties — unheard of even in the Zen halls, not by rule but by culture, the Confucianism and military hierarchy. It was a great retreat to see some strengthening and widening of depth in sitting as a result of engaging the body a bit more in the practice. Not just endless sitting and the bows I could no longer do without suffering in the knees while sitting. The laser-sharp samadhi of sitting was softening, even “widening,” and more was being released into realizing more constantly the presence and infinity of just-now mind. Practicing Ashtanga was instrumental, it seems, in how there has come this new blooming into constancy in depth of Moment. And being around these super-sincere yogis who teach — Niko, Dimitra, Anetta, Manolis, Mariella, Iphigeneia, et al. — really keep the discipline near and at hand.
The experiences I had in the traditional Korean Zen halls would blow the mind of everyone who wished the continuing work for enlightenment, liberation, “don’t know” or the Unborn. And this was in some of the “gold standard” Zen temples for Kyol Che — Songgwang Sah, Bong Am Sah, Jeong Hae Sah, Gak Hwa Sah — so the level you saw there is the best at where it gets, in terms of monastic “zeal” for practice, for working with the 4 Great Vows on a day-to-day basis, in this crazy world. I just saw removal and storage. It was actually somewhat disheartening to see, and took a long while to adjust the feelings to. I felt rage, at times, over the slothful nature. Guys just cracking their knuckles and no one correcting them. Just killing time away from some temple responsibility, or being chastened by his Master with a period of isolation in one of the “good” Zen retreats.
There will be a future blog post where I will share experiences experiencing the lack of correct posture or attitude during the long retreats in the traditional Korean temples. So much drowsiness and lethargy. Guys sitting flat out of cultural pride alone, never ever using a supporting cushion under the spine, slouched and even bent at weird angles to the floor. The occasional snoring, which could go completely Un corrected for some long sittings, even weeks. Whole monk-careers slumped and never tasting the limitless vastness without border or edge or plane.
The laypeople would be astounded!