I’m back in California again and about two hours after I arrived back on the Left Coast I was leading an all-day Zazen retreat. Which was attended by 9 people (including me & Yuka), by the way. This was good because the first guy who signed up ended up not coming. Thank you all for coming. And for those of you who read this blog & live out here but never show up: Too bad, you lose. I say that because as I’m sitting there sitting it dawned on me just how very special Zazen really is.
Up till now I’ve tended to say things like “Zen is boring” or that it’s just a lot of staring at walls with your legs all achy and that there’s no Enlightenment and no Higher States of Consciousness and all that rigamarole. That’s all true. But maybe I’ve given the impression that Zazen is all boredom and pain. It’s not. If it was I wouldn’t have been doing it every day for the past 20-odd years.
I say those seemingly negative things about Zazen because I’m turned off by all the hype you hear about meditation from most people who promote it. That kind of stuff always turned me off from trying any of those practices. It wasn’t till I found a teacher who was honest enough to say that it was often painful and boring that I actually decided to try it out. But now I feel like maybe I went too far in the opposite direction and maybe I’m giving people the impression that there are no benefits to Zazen, or that the benefits of Zazen are the same as what you might get out of playing bass in a hardcore band or jogging or whatever. They’re not. Zazen is way better.
Being exposed to the kind of noise and clutter most people seem to fill their lives with for a week and then cutting all that out for a day made a huge difference. We are constantly dumping obscene amounts of toxic garbage into our minds and then we wonder why we’re so muddled and unable to stay focused. There’s a kind of centeredness you get from Zazen practice that you cannot get anywhere else. And there’s a power to practice with a group that cannot be found in any other activity. It is truly an amazing thing our buddy Mr. Gotama discovered all those many years ago. You ought to try it sometime.