Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April Fools Zen

Last Sunday, April 1st, the Original Mind Zen Sangha met for the first time. Two people attended, and I couldn't have been more pleased and excited. I think it turned out great; I forgot to included one chant, but there wasn't any place I would rather have been.

Before anyone arrived, as I sat on the cushion all by myself, I was suffused with nervous energy and excitement. My heart was drumming anxiously. I had no idea what to expect.

So I just sat and waited, allowing myself to settle into the "Don't know-ness" of the moment.

And so that's what I spoke about--Five Mountain Zen practice and "Don't Know" mind. In life, we often think that we know the answers, based upon a carefully constructed mental map of dualistic categories (either/or, self/other, subject/object, right/wrong, etc.), when in reality we don't know. Our thinking mind often leads us into trouble, cutting reality into false opposites and filling our minds with delusive narratives and thus unnecessary suffering.

In the Five Mountain tradition, we practice the huatou method by asking ourselves, "What is this?" Ordinarily we think that we know the answer to that question: "What is this?" Some jerk beeping at me in traffic. "What is this?" A dog barking at 6 AM.

But the truth is that we don't know because true reality is beyond knowing, in that knowing means dualism and reality is beyond categorization. When we really dig into this question, the huatou cuts through the delusive dualism of the discriminating mind. It's a way of letting go clinging to ideas.

What's left is our Original Mind, free of delusions. Many people want to make something special out of it, but in reality, it's our true nature shining forth. Nothing more, nothing less.

So that's what I sat with until the first person arrived, and the main subject of my first Dharma talk. I had planned on recording it, but in the midst of all the details I forgot.

Maybe next time. Maybe not. I can't say for certain, so I'll say "Don't know" instead.