Happy Bloomsday!

In the full practice the practitioner must bring to the engagement the three necessities of the Great Root of Faith, the Great Ball of Doubt, and the Great Overpowering Will…

At first, one’s efforts and attentions are focused on the [posture]. When it cannot be solved (one soon learns that there is no simple “right answer”), doubt sets in. Ordinary doubt is directed at some external object such as the [posture] itself or the teacher, but when it has been directed back to oneself, it is transformed into Great Doubt. To carry on relentlessly this act of self-doubt, one needs the Great Root of Faith. Ordinarily, faith and doubt are related to one another in inverse proportion: where faith is strong, doubt is weak; and vice versa. But in [asana] practice, the greater the doubt, the greater the faith. Great Faith and Great Doubt are two aspects of the same mind of awakening. The Great Overpowering Will is needed to surmount all obstacles along the way. Since doubt is focused on oneself, no matter how strong, wily, and resourceful one is in facing the opponent, that opponent (oneself) is always just as strong, wily, and resourceful in resisting. When self-doubt has grown to the point that one is totally consumed by it, the usual operations of the mind cease. The mind of total self-doubt no longer classifies intellectually, no longer arises in anger or sorrow, no longer exerts itself as will and ego.

Sitting with Koans, John Daido Loori

I substituted some yoga terms for the original zen terms in this text, because I was struck with how much this teaching relates to asana practice: [posture] was substituted for the term koan; [asana] was substituted for the word zen.

How amusing is this: Doubt is directed at some external object such as the [posture] itself or the teacher. Or the system, I guess 😉

And how cool is this: The greater the doubt, the greater the faith. Great Faith and Great Doubt are two aspects of the same mind of awakening.

We assume self-doubt to be a negative state, but that’s not how it’s meant in this text. It is considered an essential feature of spiritual inquiry–and implies not the usual pity-party of “I doubt myself/I feel bad about myself/I will never get this posture,” but, rather a state of…I guess I’ll call it disorientation, or openness, that is so profound that all notions of a stable self, or a stable universe, or a stable reality pretty much go out the window. Only to open up a whole world of possibility.

Mysore practice this morning. A huge, delightful crack as I was being adjusted in baddha konasana. I wonder how long it takes, as a teacher, not to kind of jump back when students are cracking under your adjustment. Volleyball Guy didn’t flinch. He left all the doubt for me 😉

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