Saturday, January 8, 2011

What is it?

Thursday was the last day our teacher, Genpo Roshi, was going to around town for awhile so the zendo was pretty full for the evening teaching session. He didn't really have a planned talk  for the evening, although I think the producers of his videos wanted him to say some things that could be cut and used for various purposes ... probably introductory words about Big Mind. So he said he needed to warm up a bit at first and needed some questions.

Tell a Zen student she can ask any question of the teacher, and you're off. There was no shortage the whole evening, and we even went over time a bit.

Several monks wanted to talk about the identity of being a monk. One said he just didn't tell anybody he was a monk, but another said he told everybody. Roshi said that on airplanes and things he told people who asked him that he was a teacher. "What grade do you teach?" "Elementary students." "What subjects?" "The basics." He said he used to tell people he was a realtor and that he sold space. Little Zen jokes these.

My friend sitting next to me said she found herself pondering "What is it?" when she thought about being a monk. (You may see me here if you go view the video on ZenEye because I turned so I could look at her, and I know that the camera often catches things like that.)

Roshi answered that was a very good question and one worth sitting with. He said he had sat with that question many times. Of course, he told us the answer right there. The answer is "I don't know", but it's a Zen thing, isn't it, that what you have to do is to sit and sit and sit with the question until finally you arrive at the place where somehow you ARE the answer .... doesn't matter that you already know what the answer is.

As I wonder about the idea of being a monk, I want to know if I know what it is. I know I don't know right now. But I guess the thing to do is to sit and sit with it and eventually I'll come to the place where I can say "I DON'T KNOW!!!!!!!!" and that will be that.

For awhile anyway.

It's a Zen thing.

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