Zen means attaining our True Self, right here and now. Yet in doing that, we are often facing the soupy sop of roiling karma, attaining its content and weight, digesting this stuff and realizing its fundamentally empty nature, and then – – because we always can carry at least some traces of the karma, like a white dress that has had red wine spilled on it, the stain may be forevermore indelible despite much laundering — having the wisdom to use this karma for all beings, rather than being used by it. It’s tough fucking business. More than three decades of hard practice, and my karmic limitations still reveal areas where I need to do work, and where I come up short, and even where I have been positively wrong in this effort. “Boiling sand and expecting rice,” is the old Zen way of expressing it.
This is why I continue in the practice. There is nothing “noble“ whatsoever about my aspirations, on one level. The suffering of sentient beings is vast and it is something I feel every single day. Yet, ironically, the longer I practice, the less I want to teach it anymore, because I am increasingly aware of my own gross limitations and shortcomings, and the fact that health and vitality are fast running out. “In the great work of life and death, time will not wait for you,” goes the ancient Zen poem that Zen Master Seung Sahn often quoted. “If you die tomorrow, what kind of body will you get?” Having tasted so many countless experiences these last nearly 6 decades, I do not have much taste for needing to have “new” or “interesting” experiences. Zero wish for more travel or for building some sort of “great” Zen Center or community. I tasted the bullshit-psychosis of fame in Korea, and that has no interest for me: it polluted so much of my view, I needed over a decade to digest and repair it. Making some Zen community in Greece or somewhere? Nah, nah, nah — no thanks: it would just split my head open, raising all the money for that and then using vast amount of energy to adapt Zen to a Greek context which I am too old, now, to gain any competency in. I have zero ambition: wouldn’t do it for love or for money.
Meanwhile, the need to maintain vigilance in this work is glaring. I am actually wishing for more time to meditate these days, not less. Anything that subtracts from the amount of time or energy that I can sit, to be allowed to be alone with others, I am learning to cut off, often with extreme prejudice. It simply does not pay to go along with peoples’ endless sensitivities, just to repair what is — for most people these days — often just the broken maladapted psychologies brought on by the twisted nature of life in modern times. (I need look no further than my own life to prove that.)
“Originally, there is nothing.” People don’t realise what an unspeakable completeness those words point to.
This is the place where you will find me.