I quit zen last week. Cold turkey. It had something to do with the reason I retired... to only do art. Did it feel good! Just like "emptying a tea pot" (my teacher's words today).
Then Saturday I sat in on a beginner's sitting class (which I'm supposed to do three times before teaching such a class). I can't remember why I went... having quit.... except that after the class there was a talk that I wanted to hear by a Qi Gong practitioner. At the class, one of the students asked if studying zen would help him rearing his children?
When I observe a class I try not to talk. But I was intrigued by his question. What a great way to evaluate an activity... will it make me a better parent?
As I looked around the room I saw people who had come there for themselves. Or at least, all of them besides the father who wanted to be a better father. Then I saw myself, four years ago, at my first beginner's class (actually it was one-on-one). I went there for myself. Not because I wanted to be a better parent.
After awhile I couldn't contain myself. Sitting is not something we just do for ourselves, but for all. (I can just hear some saying, "but don't sit for me.") I tried to explain how, if we become quiet, centered, focused, or whatever good might come of our sitting, then we might pass that on to others. And them to others. And not just to people, but to other things... even to the sidewalk. Imagine how good a sidewalk would feel if people didn't just stomp on it.
So my Zen teacher had a jerky mouse today. I tried to fix it on his aging computer. As I waited for some program to download we started talking. That's when he told me about emptying a tea pot.