Conversations with a zen teacher and her students.
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(From the Introduction) The first time I heard Cheri speak, I figured my comprehension level to be around five percent. And yet much was communicated. Her desire to share the truth of this path - her willingness to repeat, to elaborate, to patiently try another and yet another way to make it clear - suggested a momentousness to what she had to say, even some urgency. At the same time, her humor demonstrated a lightness of spirit, insisted that things might be all right after all. (Now that's an authentic Zen laugh, I remember thinking.) There was something about her that I experienced as wide-openness, terrifying yet irresistible; something I saw as freedom; something I felt as love - and all that made me think that the most important thing in my life was to hear more. When I try to say what I have learned during the five years I have been listening to Cheri, one word always comes to mind: happiness. When I try to describe the practice that she teaches, it is always with two words: ending suffering. In Buddhism, ordinary life is likened to the turning of a wheel, in which suffering is the inevitable consequence of actions that arise in ignorance of our true nature. The path taught by the Buddha enables us to stop that wheel and turn it in the other direction, toward happiness. If the word happiness is rarely encountered in most Buddhist teaching, that is because striving to attain happiness is at best only temporarily successful. Instead, this path aims specifically at ending suffering: once we end our suffering, happiness is what is there. How to do that - how to turn the wheel in the opposite direction - is the subject of this book.
With each moment, looking at our conditioning, looking at what we cling to, what we resist, what we think, what we believe - we can see all the things we do that cause us to suffer. And each moment we have the opportunity to drop all of that, come back to the breath, come back to our center, to be present.
There's a tendency to idealize awakening, to think that once we awaken, everything will be okay; all the lights will be on, suffering will be ended, and that's that. It would be really regrettable to spend our lives living for that moment - because it isn't like that.
Suzuki-roshi talked about the love of the process of awakening, rather than idealizing a point out there in the future where something is going to happen. Once you love the practice of awakening, it won't matter to you whether something called "awakening" ever happens. The moment you love the process of ending suffering, it doesn't matter whether or not suffering ever ends. That love of the practice of ending suffering will probably be all of the awakening that you would ever desire. It would be so far beyond your wildest dreams of what life could be like that it would be difficult to imagine anything more wonderful.
Awakening is not getting to a place, it's not accomplishing something, it's not changing anything - it's just learning to love what you do in this moment. It's so much easier than people think. All the other stuff people try to do in spiritual practice makes it much harder than it needs to be. If you could just love the practice, without having standards about what practice should be or how well you're doing it. If you could just love sitting, without having to decide whether it's a good meditation or a bad meditation and comparing it to the one you had last week or reading something in a book about somebody's meditation and thinking you'll never have a meditation like that - if you could just love sitting....
Somebody said to me last week, "But I don't know how to do that. It sounds like you're saying to just love, and I can't just love at will." But I think we can. Whenever we are listening to our hearts, love is there. Love is what's there when we stop doing everything else.
Do we ever get used to anger in the same way? Anger comes up; we have to have a big emotional response to it, we have to make a decision about it, we have to decide what it says about who I am, what's going on with me, why I did that, this is wrong, instead of - ah, anger. Ah, rain.
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Book Description Present Perfect Books, 1991. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0963078402
Book Description Present Perfect Books, 1991. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110963078402
Book Description Present Perfect Books. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0963078402 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.1482955