Coca Cola Coca Cola Coca Cola

This morning, Neti had some interesting thoughts about how to deal with conflicting information about what is “right” in practice.

This post made me think of a story that Zen Master Seung Sahn used to tell about chanting. In the story there is a question about what kind of chanting is “correct” chanting. Folks in the story are unclear about which is the best chant. Here’s a bit of Soen Sa Nim’s comments:

Practicing will not help if you are attached to your thinking, if your mind is moving. Taoist chanting, Confucian chanting, Christian chanting, Buddhist chanting: it doesn’t matter. Even chanting, “Coca Cola, Coca Cola, Coca Cola…” can be just as good if you keep a clear mind. But, if you don’t keep a clear mind, even Buddha cannot help you. The most important thing is, only do it. When you only do something one hundred percent, then there is no subject, no object.There’s no inside or outside. Inside and outside are already one. That means you and the whole universe are one and never separate.

Seung Sahn died in November of last year. I miss having him around. His stories were remarkably simple and remarkably instructive at the same time. I was both naive and arrogant enough to think they were unsophisticated when I first heard them. Duh! Not.

Perhaps the best thing about the stories is the compassion that they suggest. Soen Sa Nim always said “Just do it,” which in Ashtangi-speak means “just practice.” But the underlying assumption is that one should practice with compassion. For everyone. Including oneself. Which is easier said than done, as I’m sure many Ashtangis know.

I wonder if we don’t, as a group, tend toward the hypercritical, toward lots of thinking. Like Neti, I overexert, I think too much, I am critical of my attempts. I have to be really careful not to disparage myself moment by moment as I practice. And that’s perhaps my biggest challenge and the greatest opportunity of practice–I can spend time on the mat being critical, or I can let go of that mind and just practice, and feel the grace and the acceptance and the love. And maybe if I do it over and over again, I can bring that clear mind into everyday life and share it.

Thanks for the good morning post, Neti! And here’s the link to the whole chanting story, if anyone’s curious:


2 Responses

  1. That’s a really cool story. Funny too.

    Perfect for a Monday morning…


  2. Your welcome, glad I could help. =)

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