Right and wrong

Yesterday IO asked about zen practice as compared to vipassana practice. I outlined some of the differences I think exist, and now I’m thinking about how when we describe differences, it’s easy to assume the project is about making a case for what’s right and what’s wrong. People often like to have a sense of closure around things, and the easiest closure is: “So this is what’s right.”

Sigh.

  • Do you keep your eyes open or closed in meditation?
  • Flat back or curved back in forward bends?
  • Product management as a centralized driver of all processes, or as an overseer of decentralized groups of innovators?
  • These are all good questions. Once I asked Hokaku about my eyes, and he said, “Open.” Once I asked Sokai, and he said, “Try it with them closed.”

    So for a while there, I meditated with my eyes closed. It was different. Sokai and I talked about the experiences. Then for a good while, I’d close my eyes sometimes and keep ’em open sometimes. If Hokaku was leading the meditation, though, I would practice with my eyes open.

    Now I know the difference between meditating with my eyes open and meditating with my eyes closed. I meditate with my eyes open about 99.9% of the time.

    So what’s the right answer? If you think I think the answer is “open,” go back and read again. 🙂

    ***

    In backbending news, I am ready to decide if taking 200 mg of ibuprofen before practice in the morning is right or wrong. Just kidding. I’m gonna try skipping the drugs and see what happens. I’ve always kind of ignored my pain receptors. Guess that’s a little habit I might want to think about a bit…

    My lower back is tender this morning, but not bad at all. Ice will be my friend again, as it was when I started practicing. I can’t say I remember the days of icing my hamstrings twice a day with great fondness, but that’s only because I am lazy and don’t like to have extra rituals to remember.

    I guess it’s pretty important for me to consider the fact that though I have reduced my habit of bullishly forcing my way to all of my goals, I have most definitely not freed myself of the habit. Kapotasana may be a finetuning of this particular kind of letting go, and if I keep being stubborn, the lesson’s just going to be all that much more difficult.

    ***

    Found a website with a good bit of writing by Hongzhi Zhenjue (1091-1157), one of my all time favorite writers.

    The field of boundless emptiness is what exits from the very beginning. You must purify, cure, grind down, or brush away all the tendencies you have fabricated into apparent habits. Then you can reside in the clear circle of brightness. Utter emptiness has no image, upright independence does not rely on anything. Just expand and illuminate the original truth unconcerned by external conditions. Accordingly we are told to realize that not a single thing exists. In this field birth and death do not appear.

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