Friday, April 24, 2009

Bring Your Crimes With You

Lately I have been thinking a lot about mistakes: making mistakes, watching others make mistakes and how the mere whiff of possibility around making a mistake can shape one's actions. No, not one's actions. My actions.

Inch by inch by inch I have been trying to creep out from under this self-imposed rock called "shyness." I realized a good deal of what passes for shyness is really the fear of making mistakes in front of others. When I first received the wonderful gift of a spinning wheel, I forced -ahem- asked my family to leave the house so I could make all my mistakes in private. Also the loud cursing may have been a consideration. But really, if you can't make mistakes in front of your own family, then who? where?

There has been something about going to sit at the Zen Center that has pushed this issue to the very forefront of my consciousness, perhaps because so much of the experience of it has been making mistake after mistake after mistake. I remember the first time I was told to be a server for oryoki (formal meal served in the zendo). Given the long list of correct ways to do it, I was very nervous about making mistakes. Plus, one must do it in front of everyone, including the teacher and senior monastics and students, who I so dearly wanted to impress. While I didn't actually spill hot food on him, I did do just about everything wrong including tripping over a zafu right in front of the teacher. I can laugh now, but oh, it was so painful at the time.

During sesshin, Shugen Sensei gave a talk about a koan that included a line about how when you create laws, the crimes will follow: as soon as you set a rule, the rule will be broken and someone will become the criminal who broke it. He spoke about how when we come to this practice, all our crimes come along with us. Suddenly it made all the fear and nervousness seem a little silly. It is simply very, very human to make mistakes and, despite my best efforts to pretend otherwise, I am simply very, very human. So where is the problem?

I tried to hold onto this as we had our "encounters" with people on the train as part of Spindle 7 this past weekend. Keep it simple. Just person to person. From one criminal to another.


OfTroy said...

i too was once shy.

i remember the first day of school.
i thought i would know everyone.. (all the kids from the play ground!)
but there were 4 class of kindergarden, and 4 quadrants of the neighborhood (that i knew nothing about, and knew no one)

i sat, alone, and afraid.

i had a insite--(and even at the time, i thought my self clever)

i wondered if every other little girl in the room was just as afraid as i was. i thought, we are all sitting here, quiet, not talking, afraid. All we need is someone to say Hello.. FIRST!

so i became that some one.
(i haven't shut my mouth since then!)

i presume every one is a little shy--at least some of the time, and a little afraid some of them time.

and all i have to do, is be a little braver--once in a while.

(and as for tripping and falling.. well YEARS and YEARS of practice have made me an excellent fall-er!
i could be a stunt person! Good grief! the powers that be are always humbling me.. (just this week, tuesday, flat on ground! i did a kowtow to karma.. (and i bruised my bananas--poor things what did they do to deserve such a fate?)

Taos Sunflower said...

I love the concept that by creating our own laws, we will surely break them. Very wise. Thanks for sharing that. I an expert in that field.