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To widen the margins on our experience is to begin to include heretofore unrecognized possibilities. Our moment by moment activity is not necessarily directed toward accomplishing something specifically, some specific act, but rather toward functioning in a way that expresses aliveness. This is reflected in the feeling we have when we pick up something with two hands. We don’t treat the world as an object, as something separate from us. We shift from an emphasis on us (i.e., what we feel when we use one hand) to an expression of connection and relatedness (i.e., what arises as we use two hands).
This simple body practice of using two hands can change how we relate to the world and ourselves. However, there is a potential problem: we may become stuck to the notion of using two hands. This is not some strategy for self-improvement or success as though “if I use two hands, I’m really practicing Zen…” Maybe one of our hands is injured, or maybe we only have one hand, so, it may be impossible to use two hands. What’s most important is the “feeling” of using two hands. Then, even if we do something with one hand, we can do it with the feeling of using two hands, with the sense that our hands are actually connected through our arms, our chest, and our heart. Practice is not about the doing something according to some idea or formula, but continuing to express the feeling of warm-hearted connection and care.
Dogen says, “the entire universe is the dharma body of the self.” Our so-called self is a self only to the extent that it is in contact with and disappears into all other selves. So, when we set aside fixed ideas about the self, there is no thing that is not the self. And we may meet ourselves everywhere, in all things. This unbounded aliveness is non-otherness. It is expressed in our daily lives through empathy and kindness.
A verse adapted from Layman P’ang:
In the ten directions, the same congregation
Each and every one practicing non-otherness
Minds empty, connected with each arising
This is the place where Buddhas are chosen
Friday, May 1st
Shifting Our Perspectives
What does it mean for us to settle in our experience in each moment?
For many of us, in our daily life, thinking prevails. Can we have an experience and not immediately have an opinion about it? And, once they arise, can we have opinions and not be limited by them? When we settle ourselves where we are, thinking may subside. Our bodily awareness may become our focus. In this session, we will explore how to establish ourselves in our present experience, including but not limited by our ideas, beliefs and pre-conceptions.
Saturday, May 2nd
Believing in nothing which is saying „Yes“ to each arising
What does it mean to awaken to the teachings?
My first teacher Suzuki Roshi taught us that it is essential to believe in nothing. For me, this means that as we do not stick to any particular thing we can begin to make use of everything. Out of the utter clarity of this dynamic, ever changing nothing, each arising may appear as it is, each meeting may take place not limited to our views and preferences. Each appearance may be a piece of our mind. Everything is close. In this session we will investigate our views about separteness and connectedness and consider attitudes of openness and acceptance as way to gather space around them.
Saturday, May 2nd
What does it mean to live in, through and as our aliveness?
We may function in the midst of aliveness with a view that practice is possible. We may anchor our practice in an experience of impermanence and emptiness. We may commit ourselves to acting toward each being and thing with a feeling of connection and care. It is important to accept that it may not always be possible to live fully in this view and manifest it completely in every moment. Yet, practice can continue. We can begin again with each inhaling, each exhaling. We can begin again by re-connecting with and offering our intention. In this session we will consider ways in which we can live our understandings.
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