Last night I attended a Dharma talk led by Daishin McCabe, assistant teacher at Mt. Equity Zendo of Pennsdale, PA.
Daishin, a priest in the Soto Zen lineage, had much to say about the role of the body in Zazen, and Dogen Zenji's words about Shikantaza, "just sitting".
One of the points Daishin made was that we don't sit meditation to get anywhere or anything. There is no point A to point B, there's just point A, and it is as vast as the Universe. In fact, it IS the Universe!
It is so human of us to seek a goal to our meditation, but there is no goal but to simply be in that Universe. It will be magnificent sometimes, and other times a veritable shit show, but that's what it means to be a human being. Our meditation practice allows us to be with whatever bubbles up, and with a gentle pop, we watch as it all dissipates. If something comes up that we want to work with, we put it aside with a gentle post-it....to be continued....
And the question to ask with open, loving curiosity is simply, "what is this?"
What is this sensation in the belly? Why am I suddenly sweating? Why is my heart beating faster? What is this smile at the corner of my mouth and who is smiling? Why is my scalp tingling? Where are these tears coming from? Why am I laughing?
There are as many questions as there are moments!
Before I went in to join the group gathering for Daishin's discourse, I heard the call of hawk nearby. It seemed urgent. I followed the call, and as I rounded a bend, a huge hawk lifted from the power lines. Still calling, he flew toward me with such power and grace! I stood still as he flew directly overhead, so close I could see his feathers clearly spread and the speckled breast. He flew out of sight but not out of ear shot. He seemed distressed, still calling from his new perch, and I thought it must be an immature hawk, maybe this years fledge, and perhaps still calling for his nest mates and parents.
But then I thought perhaps the view from his sky is sometimes so vast and awesome, that he becomes insecure, lonely, and feeling terribly small in his hawk's Shunyata!
But only for a moment, and then it passes as the wind lifts the hawk's tail feathers and flirts around the shoulders, inviting a continual leap of faith. Vaulting into space, the hawk can do nothing more than naturally respond, even as the profound fact of his supported existence appears empty!
As Daishin said last night, we are asked over and over again through our practice, to release each assumption, each frozen belief, attitude and calcified opinion! We shake it all up and never forget that we are fully supported by the Universe!
And what remains?