Tuesday, 18 March 2008

JI-JUYO-ZANMAI: Samadhi of Accepting & Using the Self

We have all received a self. We received a self from our parents. We are receiving ourself from our breakfast. But how many of us truly accept our self?

To begin to see the extent to which I, in my vestibular dysfunction and associated perfectionistic control freakery, fail to truly accept myself: this might, in the end, be the best I can do in the way of self-acceptance. If complete self-acceptance is no vestibular dysfunction and total elimination of vestibular-based perfectionistic control freakery, I may as well give up sitting-zen practice here and now and take up something less demanding -- maybe mountain climbing or professional boxing, for example. Or perhaps pursue the career of a concert pianist.

We all have continued since before being born to use ourself. But generally we use ourselves unconsciously, unthinkingly, unattentively. We end-gain.

To limit JI-JU to autonomic receiving of the self, as opposed to conscious acceptance of the self, might be a mistake -- like sitting in lotus with the body. To limit JI-JU to conscious acceptance of the self, as opposed to autonomic receiving of the self, might also be a mistake -- like sitting in lotus with the mind. To limit JI-YO to reflex use of the self, as opposed to conscious use of the self, might be a mistake -- like sitting in lotus with the body. To limit JI-YO to conscious use of the self, as opposed to automatic, unconscious, reflex use of the self, might also be a mistake -- like sitting in lotus with the mind.

Egged on by the Luetchfords, Gudo perceived that I wanted to identify Master Dogen's teaching with that of FM Alexaner. And so Gudo poisoned our relationship forever and broke my heart. But no, that was Gudo's mistake. It was never my intention to identify A with B, only to clarify A more deeply.

I wanted to understand Master Dogen's teaching with the help of FM Alexander, and that is what I did. For 700 years nobody understood Master Dogen's instruction to sit in lotus with body, with mind, and as body and mind dropping off. But, with the help of two dead men, Master Dogen and FM Alexander, and the living pratice of sitting-zen, in the end, I could not fail to understand it. I arrived at that understanding eventually. But it cost me a lot of grief, which I haven't managed to process yet. The truth may be that I have been suppressing my grief, for a long time.

The translation of JI-JUYO-ZANMAI that appears in the opening paragraph of the Nishijima-Cross Shobogenzo translation, "the samadhi of receving and using the self," was a mistake. Furthermore, the title of this post, "Samadhi of Accepting and Using the Self," might also be a mistake.

I have received myself, but I do not always accept all of myself. I use myself ceaselessly, but often unthinkingly, badly, unharmoniously -- creating unwholesome karma within and without. Those two kinds of mistake are probably the most fundamental mistakes that I make every day.

Now I am going to France for three or four weeks, mainly in order to make those two kinds of mistake. If the stillness catches me, if the sound of the forest stream washes away all cares and body and mind drop off, so be it. But I don't expect that. What I do definitely expect, from repeated experience, is that after three or four days of karmic detox, I will awake wearily in the early hours, plagued by regrets for past mistakes large and small, and will sit alone in a cold pre-dawn, sitting in lotus with the body, like a being in hell, or a hungry ghost, or a dumb animal -- waiting for the first bird to tweet. I am looking forward to it.

Not only will I enjoy it; by sitting wholeheartedly in lotus, I will also be able to defeat miscellaneous pests. Even as a being in hell or a dumb animal, by sitting in the full lotus posture I will defeat the likes of Yoko and Michael Luetchford, James Cohen, and miscellaneous other celestial demons, at a stroke. Irrespective of me, the virtue of sitting in the full lotus posture is like that.

2 comments:

HezB said...

"But, with the help of two dead men, Master Dogen and FM Alexander, and the living pratice of sitting-zen, in the end, I could not fail to understand it."

Hi Mike,

"Dead masters don't talk back", eh?

All the best to you,

Harry.

Mike Cross said...

Somebody asked me, offline: "how can you say that nobody else understood? What is the need to say something like this?"

My response is this: What is necessary, and not easy, is not to be afraid of being wrong, not to be afraid of seeming arrogant, not to be afraid of making mistakes.

Action that is regulated by the calculating filter of how this will seem in the eyes of others -- will people think I am pretentious, or mad? will people relate to me negatively? will people be jealous of me? will people despise me? will people ridicule me? will people admire me? will people be grateful to me? will attractive women fancy me? -- is not action that truly expresses the samadhi of accepting and using the self.

When we are working for our own fame and profit, those kind of calculating questions are always worth asking. But if our aim is to taste freedom, the need, first up, is to stop such worrying, to be more careless.

The need is not to be afraid of being wrong, not to be afraid of making mistakes. This incidentally is not something that I worked out for myself. This is a teaching I have received, in spite of my own inherent tendency, from two practical traditions in which human freedom is valued.

Of course such an arrogant statement -- "I am the only one for 700 years who has understood -- is always the mistake of a self-deluding fool. If I had been more careful, I would have edited it out. But, on the vigorous road of getting the body out, being careful never gets us anywhere.

Our need is to be allowed the freedom in which to make such stupid mistakes. Our need is to be allowed the freedom to go wrong. One or two good teachers I have met along the way have let me taste that freedom. But in the end there is only one person who can truly permit me to go wrong, and that is Mr Wrong himself -- Mr Wrong accepting himself as himself.

In the end, is there any concrete example of a Zen Master who left a trace, for our investigation, of the samadhi of accepting and using the self?

How about the Zen Master who, despite his disciple's expectations that he must be a pisser who hit the bullseye every time, turned out to be a careless sprinkler?