A story about Zen master Suzuki Roshi. Once his students had been sitting and they were 3 or 4 hours into a very hard sitting period. The person who told the story said that every bone in his body was hurting. Not only that, his thoughts were totally obsessed with either, “I can’t do this, I’m worthless. There’s something wrong with me.” or “This whole thing is ridiculous. Why did I ever come here? These people are crazy. This place is like boot camp.” Probably everyone else in the room was going through something similar.
Suzuki Roshi came in to give the lecture and sat down. He started to talk very, very slowly and said, “The difficulty that you are experiencing now…” (And that man was thinking….“will go away”)… and Suzuki said, “will be with you for the rest of your life.”
That’s a sort of Buddhist humor, but it is also the essence of maitri (friendliness towards ourselves). It seems to me that we come to a body of teachings or any spiritual path, or to meditation, in some way like little children looking for comfort, looking for understanding, looking for attention, looking somehow to be confirmed. And the truth is actually that the meditation practice isn’t about that. Practice is about that part of our being finally being able to open completely to the whole range of our experience, including all that wanting, including all that hurt, including the pain and the joy. Opening to the whole thing so that this little child-like part of us can finally, finally, finally, finally grow up.
But this issue of growing up, it’s not all that easy because it requires a lot of courage… to relate directly with your experience. By this I mean whatever is occurring in you, you use it. You seize the moment. Moment after moment? You seize those moments and instead of letting life shut you down and make you more afraid, you use those very same moments of time to soften and to open and to become more kind.
photo infrogmation of New Orleans