Friday, January 4, 2013

Cold, Snow and Zazen

When donning clothes [ordinary men] only understand that they are donning clothes; when eating they only understand that they are eating; in all activities they are deceived by appearances. Hence they use the sublime functioning of the mind every day but do not realize it; it’s right there before their eyes but they are not aware of it.
--Korean Zen teacher Chinule,via Stephen Batchelor’s Living with the Devil, page 104. 
Snow yesterday all day long. Maybe 4 inches at home. Cold and sunless. Last night it was supposed to go down to 24, and so we worried about freezing pipes and cold bodies. We remembered the terrible cold of a few years ago and so did our cold weather chores. This morning, waking up, I dreaded going out to the zendo to sit. It’s a stone building with only a wood stove (I didn't want to do that!) and a radiant heater, and it holds the cold. I decided to do my zazen inside. But as I got my zafu ready to sit inside, something in me pushed me outside to the zendo. It’s so beautiful and quiet out there with the snow blanketing the yard, the houses and the mountains. Seems the older I get and the more zazen I do, the more ready I am not to listen to the monkey mind which has so many excuses why I should take the easier way with my zazen. So I put on warm socks, warm pants and my hoodie and headed outside. I was glad I did. Although cold, the room felt comfortable and ready for me. I looked out the window to a beautiful sight of snow and light. I lit the candle and incense, rang the bells—so clear in the cold stone room, did my morning chants and sat 40 minutes of zazen. My little and very quiet radiant heater was just enough heat. As I chanted the Four Great Vows to end my little morning ceremony, I could feel the cold had entered my body. That was okay though. The birds were chattering outside, delighted to have some birdseed that I had poured into the feeder. Again I marveled at the morning light, filtered by the clouds as it lit up the snow on the trees and yard. Little bits of snow were still fluttering down from the sky. It was nothing without me. Simply nothing.


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