The following a a guest post by Jesse Cardin. Jesse is a member of PZI and the practice leader of Living Room Zen, in Santa Barbara CA. This was originally posted on the prodigious PZI talk mailing list which is available to PZI members. I liked it so much I asked Jesse if we could post it here. Enjoy, and if you are in Santa Barbara, stop by to sit with Jesse's group.
It turns out that I don't have to like someone to enjoy eating lunch
with them. I don't even have to like someone to be their friend. It
might be a very satisfying relationship, even if everything they say
or do seems wrong.
It reminds me of a pattern that I noticed a long time ago, that there
is a connection between how I treat myself and how I treat others. As
long as I can remember (which is not far, maybe 10 years), I have not
been my own biggest fan -- certainly my biggest critic by a long shot.
One of the beautiful, functional aspects of meditation is that as I
sit with myself for extended periods of time, I am able to stand being
around myself for extended periods of time. I consider this
compassion for myself. Isn't that nice? And as I grow to allow myself
to be itself without judging it, I can allow others to be themselves
without judging them. And when I do not judge others...well, I find
it much easier to be kind. And the less I am judging, the less I am
And it seems to work the other way as well. Even if I am judging
myself and others rather harshly (and suffering!), if I can find a
little compassion for someone else it somehow translates into
compassion for myself as well. Maybe it's some crazy universal energy
thing, or maybe it's just noticing, "oh, well...if I can be nice to
someone even though I'm unhappy, maybe I'm not such a lout after all.
Maybe there's hope for me."
I'm not sure how this all ties in with my little thesis statement at
the top, but as for that...in 1914, during World War I, there was a
strange happening that no doubt you've heard of: The Christmas Truce.
On Christmas Day, 1914, German, French and British troops in the
trenches of the Western front stopped being German, French and British
troops for a day. Instead of trying to kill each other, they played
soccer. Instead of trading bullets, they traded cigars and liquor.
It's really neat when I forget that I dislike someone, when all those
tired old justifications that I hold so dear drop away. It works like
that toward myself, too.
Isn't that nice?
“A Course on Koans” is the delusion-riddled work of Chris Kufu (“Wind in the Void”) Wilson, who began practicing Zen in 1967. He regards Taizan Maezumi, Robert Aitken, and David Weinstein as his root teachers. Each of them pecked at his shell until he “completed” the never-ending koan curriculum of the Harada-Yasutani lineage.
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