Friday, 25 April 2014

The sesshin today seemed a little more tolerable than last time - though I still feel a lot of sadness in the aftermath. I think the sadness arises from my wish to return to Antaiji after this stint for another few months, maybe later in the year or next year; however, given that I've barely tolerated the 1 day sesshin, with the 5 day sesshin looming I feel that further training is beyond me. (Although I do realise it is foolish to anticipate a difficulty when there may be no difficulty at all!)

I spoke to one of the other new people afterwards whose day sounded much more challenging than mine. Throughout the sesshin he was asking himself, 'Why am I putting myself through this torture?' A valid question, especially considering that no one is forcing us to stay here.

On the evening before each sesshin, one of the residents gives a talk in response to a couple of chapters from Dogen's Shobogenzo Zuimonki. It was Tsukan's turn last night. His talk was very entertaining and he made a 13th century text intelligible and relevant to contemporary problems. A couple of points struck me in particular (and I hope I don't misrepresent him). He reminded us of Uchiyama Roshi's patience with his students in the 70s. Apparently they were very noisy when using their oryoki bowls at meal times. Rather than bluntly correcting them Uchiyama trusted that, through the practice of zazen, the students would gradually develop a sensitivity to the noise they were making and naturally become more careful. Tsukan takes this patient approach to his own issues, for instance, the sleepiness he experiences in zazen. Given time (he hopes) the issue will resolve itself. A further point from Tsukan's talk: perhaps it is the people with stronger than average desires and aversions (rather than the naturally mellow people) who are desperate enough to want to study zen and train at Antaiji.

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