Monday, August 08, 2005

What about studying books for understanding?

If the goal is to be as open as possible to each moment, then understanding of any sort is a is of course a necessary evil...we have to have some little understanding of what is going on in order to function in our life.. I just to not believe catering to it or creating more understanding is the answer...I would prefer to see people deconstructing understanding. Dropping understanding as a goal, leaving the fine intellectual constructions (which by the way are all by their very nature false or at best only partially true)to cease building them and then to actively tear them down and leave all this as rubble not have understanding as a goal, but to understand that to live each moment is the goal, and understanding is in the way, we need some...but let us keep as little as might be necessary rather than fill our headsso our whole life is lived in some book or fantasy world we create.

The problem is in the givens.....given smaller government is better...why have social service?....I understand smaller government is usually better..but wait...the understanding blinds me to the needs of my fellow citizens and our responsibilities to them. Given we should not kill.....well we should be vegetarian...but what if someone has prepared a meal with meat?....should we let the already dead cow go to waste?....what amount of understanding is going to bring us to each varied moment in our lives with all our resource present? (in what ever condition they are in) ..I am sorry ....each thing we grasp limits us...let us just put down the givens and the shoulds and be where we are.

This being said...some understanding is necessary. If someone gets this idea then how does one go about getting the little understanding they need to get through this life?....the best way they can. Having a teacher is the best way. One should try and do that if they can. Second best is sitting with a group without a teacher and last of all if they have no way (and I mean really no way...not just an excuse for not doing it) then reading a book would be a distant third. I remember when someone wrote to me of the impossibility of finding a group or a teacher...first this had to become possible before they could do it..the understanding that no one was about
was keeping them from seeing the resources that they could bring to hand. The first two ways of gaining understanding will bring you into the reality of your life ..the third takes you out of it ....if one must study, study with your whole being what is there in front of you where as Tsugen Roshi told me .......your practice is. Everyone's practice is what is in front of them. This kind of study is more zen then any book review or book reading.

The Soto shu does not give endless lectures on how to do zazen..a quick pointer and then you are stuck right there with a wall and a lot of time....eventually one does wake up to notice the time slowly passing..inside and outside.....the Soto Shu does not believe in giving you an understanding of what zazen is that you must later forget leaves you to build what ever understanding you need to get through the period of zazen......and hopefully there will less to tear later when one learns to be here now.

I am inclined to read...reading is a great pleasure that takes me is a great escape...I love it....but my goal is not to is to enter fully and go through since once I enter fully there is no real need to escape. Too many are looking for a cure for this moment....a fix for what ails them...but right here and right now life is being lived..the only life I have...I do not wish to miss a moment of it...good or bad, happy or sad.

I know people will read and people have a need to understand....perhaps when they sit long enough they will get that understanding is highly overrated. It is impossible for a finite conscious mind to grasp this infinite moment..we are blind and crippled..this is the reality of our lives....but even blind and crippled with no real understanding we can still grow and be life. We can even do it joyously and fully once we get that no real understanding is possible....when we give up trying to do the impossible...we are much less frustrated, angry and upset. When a terrorist bomb blows up and we get frightened and angry it is because
the bomb shattered our delusion that we understood the way London works..we lived in London....we got on the tube every morning and we came home on the tube at night..there were some frustrating things about it..but we knew how they worked and we knew what to expect...then BOOOM..our partial understanding is shattered and we are left with anger that this was not the way it was supposed to be today...but the reality is..this was the way it was going to be today....and it was only the comfort of our misunderstanding that was shattered for those of us not present for the attacks. We thought it could not happen here to day....When our partner leaves us because our understanding of our relationship did not include their understanding of our relationship our illusions are shattered our understanding f our relationship is shattered. There is no way for one person in a relationship to "understand" the whole relationship because they only have access to a part of the information...This is true for every where we are....Fear, anger, frustration....These things fade from our lives once the answer to why? becomes because this is what is.

Rather than study a book with your mind, study what is with all that you are.

Be Well