Joy is being willing for things to be as they are. In a generation plagued by scandal, including the misconduct of her own teacher, she had the courage to challenge the traditional modes of teaching that failed to address the underlying character flaws. She made facing anger, anxiety, and self-centeredness central to our work on the cushion, examining how these marked the limits of our willingness to fully be present to the moment-by -moment truths of interconnectedness and impermanence. She taught us to find the Absolute in each moment regardless of its content, and not to turn practice into the pursuit of kensho experiences. Enlightenment, she taught, was the absence of something, not the added presence of some special experience. Photograph courtesy of Gerry Shishin Wick, Roshi As one of the first Western women teachers, she attempted to free American Zen from many of the trappings of Japanese culture and patriarchy.
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Maybe - for Zen is Nothing Special. As long as she gets some food and a little affection, her life is fine. But we human beings are not like dogs.
We have minds which get us into plenty of trouble…. It was weird. You see, back then I saw myself as an object in a world of other objects. Those objects had eyes and were looking at me. Not that I cared. No wonder!
The modern office, in other words. Michel Foucault ironically displays an 18th century bit of perfect prison planning in his Discipline and Punish. At the center point of the prison is a Panopticon - a vantage point from which all the prisoners can be discretely monitored Know the feeling? The world is too much with us in the modern workplace. It kills your music - and I should know. For it burnt me out. I read about his longtime home, the Sharaska - concealed within the murky cloud cover of the Soviet Gulag - and with him penetrated deeply into the perfidious modern methodology for the destruction of our souls.
In my office, as in the Sharaska, cool was King - all emotions being constantly kept under wraps. And with incessantly belittling supervision, there was not even room to Squirm. Zen study can fix that. An endlessly complicated collection of mirrors But then I thought of my walk in the present. In the liberty of retirement I was free and comfortable in my own skin. My burnt out phony self of had vanished in a mere puff of smoke.
So what had happened? Certainly, with age most people let things go more easily. But it was more than that. Like when I was a kid. I changed from being burdened by the weight of past events to being responsible for living and loving in the present. I read and prayed and meditated rather than reading compulsively, nonstop.
My Burnout was actually a new Birth. You may now be gone but your SOUL lives in this book. Thanks, Charlotte, and For ever.
Everyday Zen: Love and Work