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Light in a Dark Room

The primary cause of disorder in ourselves is the seeking of reality promised by another.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

 

Sesshin: to touch the heart-mind

It was about 5 months ago that I attended my first Zen Sesshin, at a center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Grueling indeed, but nothing short of marvelous. The Zen methodology is so simple, relative to the complexities of other Eastern schools of thought, yet painstaking in how it cracks open the outer shell with such precision that nothing is lost. As part of the sitting practice, the guiding teacher offers something to the participants called, dokusan. Dokusan is a one-on-one interview with him or her to check in and as an opportunity for a student to discuss his Zen practice with the teacher. Often the short conversation involves the introduction of a question for inquiry. The object is not to intellectualize the answer but instead wait for the answer to come in the form of an experience or awakening.

On the second day of the sitting I was posed the question, “What are you seeking?” Caught off guard, I simply replied, “I do not know.” I took that with me to my cushion for the next two days.

What I had come to realize in my meditations, was that there really was nothing that I was seeking out. But, that nothing was ‘it’. You see, even if I was to have found the ‘it’, what would have actually changed? I would still be sitting with my eyes cast down on the wall, following my breath in and out. I would still be in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I would still be in silence. So if I am doing all of those things, I must have ‘it’ already.

We hold such a heavy burden on accomplishment with the failure to realize that when we strip away the truth of our seeking, we find we already possess what it is we are looking for. Here and now we have it. In air we breath, we have it. It is in the food we eat and the relationships we share.

Superimposing this model onto the yoga practice can imbue a tremendous amount of insight. What is it that you are seeking from your practice? And, if you could attain it, what would really change? I can tell you with complete confidence that even if you mastered every advanced yoga pose, dialed in perfect breath ratios and memorize the Veda, nothing would really change. You would still show up on your mat and you would still follow your breathing in and out.

We have what we need now. If we can seize aimlessly seeking out external attainment and go within, we find everything we are seeking. It is like turning on the lights in a dark room.

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