Monday, March 03, 2008

Rivers

Bringing up the subject of god on a blog where most people are coming over to look at a knitted mile seems a bit of a red herring but, in my mind, my attempts to understand this world of ours are as much about knitting a mile as they are about figuring out the meaning of that billboard in Alabama. It's all process: watching the process, being the process, or something like that. I'm still working it out.

After reading Patti and Shawn's comments yesterday, I had a couple more thoughts that I wanted to toss out.

First, I was reminded of a story I read somewhere (sorry for being so pathetic on references). The story goes along these lines: Two Zen monks were walking along--they were monks in a tradition that was very strict and forebade them from touching women--and they came to a river. There was a young woman there who needed to get across for some very important reason (sorry again for being vague on details) but she could not swim and so she asked if they would carry her across. After a brief hesitation, one of the monks offered to carry the woman across, and he does. The two monks then continue on their way. About a half hour later, the other monk finally bursts out and says "I can't believe you carried that woman across the river!" The other monk replied, "why are you still carrying her?"

Later, as I was looking through a book called The Art of Just Sitting, a collection of essays on shikantaza edited by John Daido Loori, I came across an essay by Zoketsu Norman Fischer. Here is a snippet from the first page of his essay titled "A Coin Lost in the River is Found in the River":

"Zazen is fundamentally a useless and pointless activity. A person is devoted to zazen not because it helps anything or is peaceful or interesting or because Buddha tells him to do it--though we may imagine that it helps or is peaceful or interesting--but simply because one is devoted to it. You can't argue for it or justify it or make it into something good. You just do it because you do it. It's not even a question of wanting to or not wanting to. Zazen for zazen's sake. Birds sing, fish swim, and people who are devoted to zazen do zazen with devotion all the time although there is no need for it.

Our life is already fine the way it is..."

3 comments:

OfTroy said...

we carry the woman (or what ever) because we get used to the weight, and don't feel right with out it.

we define ourselves by our burdens..

the "I had a bad childhood--i was (pick your problem: orphaned, a child of divorce, abused, poor,..what ever.)is our burden that defines us. (and limits us!)

At some point we need to put down our burden, and see who we are with our them..

the person i am now, is very different than the person i was when i carried the burden of my "abusive" childhood.

Its normal to have multiple ways to define.. (wife, mother, knitter, teacher, artist)

and some of these definitions feel like protection (armor) rather than burdens.. but our true self is not the labels, or our history... we just need to be. (and that is so hard to do!)

island sweet said...

amen!

Patti Blaine said...

Hear hear!

Absolutely love the two monks story Robyn.