Thursday, November 26, 2020

Blocked Out Fiber

Do you ever think you are getting any closer? This mean guy wanted to kill Buddha. As he walked toward Buddha to do the deed, Buddha stood still. Yet the distance between the two remained the same. Finally the poor guy succumbed and became Buddha’s disciple. Last night we looked at the koan where the young monk wanted to know about Zen. His renowned teacher asked him if he had eaten his porridge and then told the monk that he should then wash his bowl. According to the koan, the monk was then enlightened. I wondered why at this older age I’m still the kid, the youngest in my family. The monk, so to speak. Why do I identify with one person in a koan rather than the other? How many lifetimes will it take to identify with the master? To be the one answering the question rather than asking it? Getting closer means to reduce the distance between you and it. Yet just the opposite seems to be true. For me, getting closer is not even like standing still, but it is like walking backwards.

So earlier I was on the floor moving a keyboard drawer so that it would center on a larger monitor. At the same time, Mensa was talking to our 6-year old who was reading to us. If I was a good grandfather, I’d drop my tools and focus on the conversation with this delightful kid. But instead I thought about how I needed to finish the keyboard so I could get the turkey in the oven so I could do the 5pm family zoom call so I could do my 7pm class and so on. I became very anxious and started thinking about the neuropsychologist who did a podcast talking about how it is the job of the brain to regulate the body. So what is my brain doing? Why were these particular chemicals being produced and not others. If I was a Valium user, I would have done that. I knew I was stuck in this anxiety of getting all this stuff done, and yet that didn’t make it go away… or at least it could have quieted down. Within me there were two of us… the one who was anxious because, damn it, he had a plan to get a bunch of things done, and then there was the one who had an opportunity to forget the plan and pay attention to his precious 6-year old.

So I keep walking, apparently faster and faster. Sometimes I can almost touch it, and other times I reach out for that banana split and bruise my hand on the glass that separates us. Maybe if I walked backwards more I’d move forward. Moving forward just doesn’t seem to work. My daughter-in-law was talking about how when you walk in the room you should be authentic. I said something like then you can’t be wrong like when you are trying to be someone else. We talk in Zen about returning to our original self… our original nature… our buddha nature… who we really are. It is a long road, like when the Israelites took 40 years to take what should have been a one-day journey. They couldn’t have taken a longer road if they had tried.

I think that if it was easier it wouldn’t be so much fun. It would be like playing darts except the dart would be attached to an elastic band that went right to the bullseye. What fun would that be?

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