Saturday, September 8, 2012

Selling Water by the River

Another quarter has come to a close at College of Zen Buddhist Studies / Buddhist Studies Institue - LA. I was talking to Zen Master Wonji about classes the classes I currently teach there and if I should work on a new class to add for next quarter.

Here is the thing: the two classes I teach now (The Mirror of Zen and The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment) already cover anything one really needs to know about waking up. That is not to say you can simply read those books and you will wake up. It is to say, if you study those words, putting into practice the teachings discussed, you will have everything you need to cut through the delusion that is keeping you from seeing your true nature.

If everything is already there, why do we need any other classes? Why does the world even need the book I wrote on Zen and waking up? To muddy the waters a bit more, it gets even simpler. When I was working on the book and the lectures for the classes, it felt like all teachings were beginning to melt into a single mantra: return to present moment.

The role of a Zen teacher is to help people to wake up, to help people continue to return to the truth that is this very moment. And since not all teachings will resonate with all people, that also becomes part of the gig. We must continue to help people by finding that which will resonate with them.

Here is a poem I wrote one time when I was studying Buddha's first response in the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment. When I wrote this I was sitting outside on the deck of a house I was renting in Austin, TX.

Maitreya's Question in the SPE

In Buddha's answer to
  Maitreya Bodhisattva
Buddha says
  Attached love and
   are hinderances

So I started to make a
  list of attachments
  list of desires

So many attachments
  So many desires
   How do I get rid of them all?
    It seems impossible.

Oh Shit!
  I bit the hook!

What am I?
  Don't know.

Right here
  right now
   this very moment
If I must use words
 The sun is out
   The sky is blue
    with a few puffy white clouds