Updated: Apr 14, 2021
We are preparing ourselves for an intensive period of practice where for a week, we will be spending long hours every day sitting in silence and stillness.
From what some of you have written to me personally I sense a certain resistance in you taking part in this experience. It is true that in this period of practice we will be pushed over and again to what we perceive to be our limits. We fear those limits, those slippery passages where we sense our grasp on things weaken while our urge to maintain our foothold intensifies.
An intense period of indwelling and attending to inner processes without the possibility of pushing the pause or reset button can be daunting for it feels like diving at the deep end of the pool; you don’t know when you hit the bottom. Well, there is no bottom and that is both terrifying and liberating. This feeling has been best described by the great meditation master Chogyam Trungpa: “The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is, there’s no ground.” What is both ironic and in a subtle way endearing in this statement is that first, it leaves us wondering as to what the more desirable outcome could be, the good or the bad news, only to realize neither of them actually offers our ego-mind what it hankers most; predictability of outcome and a certain measure of control over events.
It feels like a freefall yet while we may dread the fall itself we may end up fully enjoying that which through and as a result of the fall we may now experience as an unknown and moving sense of freedom. Freedom is ultimately about dropping all our self-defining and self-limiting identities. What lies beyond is the unknown a realm both universal and personal at the same time.
In coming closest to our deepest personal sense of self we do find the gateway that thrusts us into what is without limit and is boundless. For me, this opening is the gift of zazen that an intensive period of practice greatly fosters.
We may lean into the resistance of giving ourselves to such a practice whilst we tell ourselves we are waiting for a calling. What we may ignore is that resistance and the call to practice co-arise. That calling is the deepest summoning in our being for us to awaken.
They co-arise yet at times we may hear one more clearly than the other. One thing though I've observed is that over time practice does get deeper; something satisfying for no other reason than the realization that you are experiencing something limitless. Limitless in that it lies beyond what your mind is capable of fathoming or making sense of while at the same time having the quality of something that is intimate.
In this intimacy definitions, boundaries, categories, objects, and goals all collapse to leave place to…just to leave place to…