I noticed something recently, especially after giving attention to how I felt being the guy with the keys to the Zendo: Contrary to what I had believed would be the case when I started sitting in Boston, after 5 years of practice, Zen seems like the least special thing in the world. The most ordinary. I admit that the idea of Zen carried with it the idea of transcending ordinary life, standing on a big huge mountain top of contentment and wisdom with, I dont know, billowing robes of bliss or some crap like that. Now, I notice how ordinary it feels. I feel less special and more ordinary with every day. And, strangely, that feels great. Strangely, that feels like the right idea.
I read somewhere recently, "Zen is the least exclusive group in the world, it is open to anyone" (ok- I am badly quoting from Barry Magid's "Ending the Pursuit of Happiness"). I read that and thought, well, sh*&, the thing is kills me is that I got to the club house to discovery that everyone I know is already practicing. All we zen students are doing seems to be realizing that. Sometimes these days I get the feeling that zen practitioners are actually the remedial group, who have to stay behind after class until they figure out that they were already doing was the right thing and that they just need to stop trying to fix it. Kind of pointlessly clapping erasers when the door is open and the teacher has gone home.
So there is it. Picking up my shoes outside the zendo, noticing the dirt stuck in the thin soles and thinking "well that dirt is, in many ways, more amazing than everything I just did on the cushion". Then knocking the dirt out and went home.
“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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