Compassion & Doubt

The coalescence of all the meditator’s thoughts and actions into… doubt… produces the power (here, almost the courage) necessary to abandon himself seemingly to ultimate disaster: his own personal destruction. When the student’s consummate dynamism carries him beyond the point where he can cope with the pressure created by the doubt, the doubt explodes, annihilating the student’s identification with body and mind. While ordinary language may be unable to describe this achievement, it is an experience that is readily available to all; Ta-hui compares it to ‘a man drinking water: he himself knows whether it is cold or warm.’

Essentials of Ch’an, Kao-feng Yuan-miao

Mmmmm. Water. Volleyball Guy suggested I needed more of it when I mentioned my killing hamstrings. How apropos. And I myself know whether it is cold or warm.

Yup, I’ve got the doubt. Freaked me out at first, and will probably again–but for now, it is just there. Doing its work like a koan.

The Cop shares the doubt, but from an external perspective. He wonders what I’m doing to myself, what the practice is doing to me. If it’s going to hurt me. He has great restraint, though, and will not interfere. He’ll go along for the ride. Watchfully. I appreciate that. It’s turnabout, though–because I stand by for his dangerous job, and for his martial arts practice. We promised at the wedding to help each other find enlightenment, so here are our opportunities.

Home practice this morning. I actually brought Gregor Maehle’s book to the mat, did standing, then went back and reviewed each pose against his descriptions. Standing is killing me these days–sitting is just fine. I spent a good bit of time with parivritta trikonasana and parivritta parsvakonasana. The second side on both of those are a hip/hamstring nightmare. Got some great perspective from the book on hip alignment. And I spent time with parsvottansana, which has been a particular bane. Good suggestions about redistributing my weight more evenly.

Also, plenty of reminders to make sure I engage the antagonist muscles (I tend to just stretch and forget about the need to engage the opposing muscles) and to be more sensitive to my feet and hips. I fall into “habit” mode, I think, and overlook the mindful set-up of the poses. Easy enough to do, I suppose, as a beginner. I get caught up in the breath and overlook the need for structural integrity.

A nice morning of practicing what’s been hurting, of trying to work it out. Then zazen with the sun on my back.

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2 Responses

  1. Look at the broad strokes. Take 2 weeks off and go for walks, reflect, read, and lay in savasana. After that, begin again as a true beginner with the wisdom of experience.

  2. Aw, Anonymous–why must you make such a challenge? I can just imagine my zen teacher saying “If you say it is easy, I will hit you 30 times; if you say it is difficult, I will hit you 30 times.”

    Thanks.–>

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