Don’t think. Do.

My cousin asked me about enlightenment. Well, not in so many words. She would think it was dopey to use a term like “enlightenment.” She’s looking for something, though. She’s looked in lots of places, too. Some spiritual; some not so much. So she was curious about yoga.

How to explain that it isn’t about the asana, it’s about the practice?

This leads to a thought about a question on the ezBoard about morning practice. The asker wanted to know about how people keep a morning practice. But he also indicated he couldn’t have one because he wanted to party late into the night.

How to explain that it isn’t about the lifestyle, it’s about the practice?

I guess in the end, you just can’t figure this stuff out with thinking (which Huang Po might, delightfully, call “delusory mental processes”). It’s kind of interesting, and seemingly contradictory, that I am currently reading (and thinking about) the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. So many ideas, so many concepts.

All of that is beside the point, though.

Practice prepares the body, mind and spirit for awakening. I am always curious about practices that just involve sitting. I suppose zazen is a kind of physical practice, but it seems a torturous practice, compared to asana practice. Just to sit, through whatever pain arises, without the preparation provided by asana practice? I suppose that produces a very strong mind practice, but I cringe at the idea of the body just getting dragged along for the ride. I’ve talked to zen monks about this, and some understood my wish for more physical practice, and some didn’t. Quite honestly, I don’t know what to make of the need for a physical practice. It makes perfect sense to yogis, of course, but it’s kind of a weirdo idea at a zendo.

My favorite zen master, though, keeps a personal physical exercise schedule, and always bemoans times when he is too busy to keep up with it properly. That particular school of zen (Korean) also has a tradition of “bowing practice.” It involves hundreds of full prostrations, which makes it like a very intense session of surya namaskars. It’s for people who need a physical practice.

Okay, so between reading the Yoga Pradipika and talking to my cousin, I’m feeling like lots of thinking, questioning, and seeking are just a kind of smokescreen — ways of avoiding getting down to it. Ways to keep the party going deep into the night. Entertainment. Looking for the absolute answer that will mean you’ve “got” it, and now you are finished and don’t have to actually practice. The Cliffs Notes of enlightenment. The siddhi without the sadhana. Or the siddhi as the point of the sadhana.


I know I’m meandering. Sorry.

You people still conceive of Mind as existing or not existing, as pure or defiled, as something to be studied in the way that one studies a piece of categorical knowledge, or as a concept — any of these definitions is sufficient to throw you back into the endless round of birth and death. The man who PERCEIVES things always wants to identify them, to get a hold on them. Those who use their minds like eyes in this way are sure to suppose that progress is a matter of stages. If you are that kind of person, you are as far from the truth as earth is from heaven. Why this talk of ‘seeing into your own nature’?

Okay, okay, Huang Po. I get it. I’ve got to knock it off.


One Response

  1. I think the physical practice is for those of us who have an overactive mind. I need the practice to wear me down, wear down the niceness, wear down the thinking. wear down any fight or flight activities that usually interfere with my true nature….
    It’s a place beyond thoughts and beyond any perceived ideas.
    No thinking.

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