Tuesday, March 18, 2014

You Tell Me

I saw today a photo by Irving Penn of a pile of discarded cigarette butts. The photographer had made this as a large platinum print on beautiful paper. It probably would cost now in the 10s of thousands. I didn't like the series when I first saw it about 30 years ago, but today they made a lot more sense. Maybe I was too close then to being a recently quit smoker and remembered that I used to look through ash trays for barely smoked butts.

I was surprised to read recently that people with OCD aren't actually neatnics. I wonder what that is about.

As I sat down on the doan's cushion at the zendo tonight, I noticed a stick of incense on the floor. My mind was engaged in a vigorous debate of whether I should get up and pick it up. If meditation had begun I would not, but since it had not, I started thinking that our head teacher might be upset if (when) he saw it. I picked it up and put it on the incense table. Then I went back to my cushion and didn't give the incense on the floor another thought. Didn't, that is, until now. I also picked it up because I didn't want it to interrupt and occupy my mind during meditation. Thinking back on the occasion, I probably should have left it on the floor as an "opportunity for practice."

Should I have allowed this broken and renegade piece of stick incense where it wanted to hang out? Was the temple less holy because of its transgression?

You tell me.

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