Thursday, January 27, 2011

Let Go of Hundreds of Years

Another day; another early morning of zazen practice at the zen center. During our first sitting this morning, feeling both tired and tense - an odd combination - a line from Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage suddenly appeared.

Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely.

First off, this is a plug for regular chanting practice because whatever you chant enough is imbued into you, ready to show up whenever it's called for.

Second, here we are studying Dogen, and what comes to mind but a line from one of Dogen's Chan(Zen) ancestors.

So anyway, I sat, repeating that line for a little while, and then watching old memories come and go. By the end of the first sitting, I felt lighter. By the end of the second sitting, the next few lines had appeared from the poem:

Open your hands and walk, innocent.
Thousands of words, myriad interpretations
Are only to free you from obstructions.

Our timekeeper missed the end of the period, thinking we had another 15 minutes, so we all were treated to a 50 minute sitting period. Sitting longer with those lines offered a way through drowsiness, through rising and fading memories, and through the extended sitting time.

And consider this. "I" wasn't "letting go of hundreds of years." It was just unfolding on it's own. This seems to be the way of breaking up karmic patterns. That the effort of sitting, walking, bowing, chanting, and sutra studying is entered into the big stew of causes and conditions in each moment, but that in the end, it's not about "me" doing something in particular.


ZenDotStudio said...

yes, letting it all flow through. thanks for this much needed reminder. The discipline provides the forum for that to happen

daishin said...

o yes, letting go of ego's little cries. in our home-based zendo i'm often doorman, timekeeper, and chant leader all in one.

We do just a short chant at the end of the night's sitting. How hard is it to say the 30-or-so words of the "four great boddhisattva vows"? yet last night my mind went blank in mid-stride, causing everyone to be thrown off-beat.

How nice it was to see the ego step aside, letting the voice find the next line without a trace of self-crimination ...

Algernon said...

Lovely post. We do a lot of chanting in the Kwan Um school and I have grown to appreciate it very much.